In January 2020, there were 580,466 people experiencing homelessness in America. Most were individuals (70 percent), and the rest were people living in families with children. They lived in every state and territory, and they reflected the diversity of our country.
Special Populations. Historically, policymakers and practitioners at every level of government have focused special attention on specific subpopulations.
Decision-makers are often concerned about children and young people due to their vulnerability. People in families with children make up 30 percent of the homeless population. Unaccompanied youth (under age 25) account for six percent of the larger group.
People experiencing “chronic homelessness” belong to another group that often singled out for attention. These individuals have disabilities and have also: 1) been continuously homeless for at least a year; or 2) experienced homelessness at least four times in the last three years for a combined length of time of at least a year. Chronically homeless individuals are currently 19 percent of the homeless population.
Finally, due to their service to our country, veterans are often analyzed
separately from the larger group. They represent only six percent of people experiencing homelessness.
Populations Most at Risk. Although the homeless population is
diverse, some subgroups are more likely to find themselves without a place to call home. Risk is significantly tied to gender, race, and ethnicity.
Males are far more likely to experience homelessness than their female counterparts. Out of every 10,000 males, 22 are homeless. For women and girls, that number is 13. Gender disparities are even more evident when the focus is solely on individual adults (the most significant subgroup within homelessness). The overwhelming majority (70 percent) are men.
- On a single night in 2020, 34,210 unaccompanied youth were counted as homeless. Of those, 90 percent were between the ages of 18 to 24. The remaining 10 percent (or 3,389 unaccompanied children) were under the age of 18.
- 50 percent of homeless youth are unsheltered — sleeping outside, in a car, or some place not meant for human habitation.
- The Alliance estimates that over the course of a year, approximately 550,000 unaccompanied youth and young adults up to age 24 experience a homelessness episode of longer than one week. More than half are under the age of 18.
How to Be an Ally for LGBTQ+ Experiencing Homelessness
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 43% of clients at drop-in centers identify as LGBT, while 30% of clients at street outreach sites and 30% of those utilizing housing programs identify as LGBT.
Learn how to Be an Ally for LGBTQ+ Experiencing Homelessness