10 US Cities With The Largest Homeless Populations

Thanks largely to poverty and unaffordable housing, most large American cities have a homeless population.
Thanks largely to poverty and unaffordable housing, most large American cities have a homeless population.

Homelessness became a national issue in the US in the 1870s, with many homeless people living in emerging urban cities such as New York. The number has grown over the years and has been accelerated by several factors including poverty and inadequate housing. According to the 2017 report, there are 553,742 homeless Americans. The majority of the homeless population in America is men, accounting for 70-85%. Most of the homeless population are those who experience homelessness for a few nights in the course of the year. It is difficult to acquire a complete and comprehensive statistics on homelessness. The figures given are always estimates.

Which US City Has the Largest Homeless Population?

Cities with More than 10,000 Homeless People

In 2017, there were approximately 76,500 homeless people including over 15,000 homeless families. Families account for the largest homeless shelter population in the city. The homelessness in New York City has reached the highest level since the great depression. The major cause of homelessness in the city is lack of affordable housing. Los Angeles City and County recorded a homeless population of 55,188. The numbers have increased from about 32,000 six years ago. Despite the booming economy of Los Angeles, the cost of housing has continued to increase with most jobless and low-income population unable to afford housing. The homeless population in King County is the third largest in the US. Seattle/King County recorded 11,643 people as living in tents, local streets, or in vehicles.

7,000 to 10,000 Homeless People

San Diego City and County recorded a homeless population of 9160 in 2017 while the District of Columbia recorded 7,473 people and San Jose/Santa Clara City and County 7,394 people. In San Diego, the number of homeless families with children was 1,589 while unaccompanied homeless youths were 1,160. About 20% of the population of DC lives in poverty with 57,000 of the 20% living in extreme poverty, a major catalyst for homelessness in the city.

Cities with 5,000 to 7,000 Homeless People

San Francisco, Las Vegas/Clark County, and Boston recorded a homeless population of between 6,000 to 6,800 people. The extreme wealth of San Francisco has only increased the number of homeless people, with the city recording a population of 6,858 people. In Las Vegas/Clark County, the number of homeless people increased to 6,490 in 2017 from 6,208 in 2016. Las Vegas has over the years worked to reduce the homeless population. Boston recorded a homeless population of 6,135 in the same year. Philadelphia completed the list of the top ten cities with the highest homeless population with 5,693 people on the street.

How is the Homeless Population Calculated?

Every two years, from around January 20, communities across the country carry out a comprehensive census of the homeless population within their communities. The people under consideration are individuals and families spending their nights in emergency shelters, transitional housing, as well as those who sleep on the street, cars, and in places that are not meant for human settlement. The enumeration is often done by hand and the totals combined. However, because of the difficulties involved in the counting, the figures are often considered an undercount.

10 US Cities With The Largest Homeless Populations

RankCityEstimated Homeless Population
1New York City76,501
2Los Angeles City & County55,188
3Seattle/King County11,643
4San Diego City & County9,160
5District of Columbia7,473
6San Jose/Santa Clara City & County7,394
7San Francisco6,858
8Las Vegas/Clark County6,490

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