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Key Findings of 2020 Point-in-Time Count

USICH updated our map of homelessness statistics to include data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's 2020 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress. 

The data is based on one-night estimates of sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations. Continuums of Care conduct the count every year during the last week in January.

These are HUD's key findings, as presented in the full report:

  • On a single night in 2020, roughly 580,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. Six in ten (61%) were staying in sheltered locations—emergency shelters or transitional housing programs—and nearly four in ten (39%) were in unsheltered locations such as on the street, in abandoned buildings, or in other places not suitable for human habitation.
  • For the fourth consecutive year, homelessness increased nationwide. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of people experiencing homelessness increased by two percent. This increase reflects a seven percent increase in people staying outdoors, which more than offset the modest (0.6%) decline in people staying in sheltered locations.
  • Nearly 6 of every 10 people experiencing unsheltered homelessness did so in an urban area, with more than half of all unsheltered people counted in the Continuums of Care (CoCs) that encompass the nation’s 50 largest cities (53%). More than one in five people who experienced unsheltered homelessness was in a CoC with a largely suburban population (22%), and one in five was in a largely rural area (20%).
  • 2020 marks the first time since data collection began that more individuals experiencing homelessness were unsheltered than were sheltered. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of unsheltered individuals increased by seven percent while the number of sheltered individuals remained largely unchanged. Increases in the unsheltered population occurred across all geographic categories.
  • The number of unsheltered people in families with children increased for the first time since data collection began. In 2020, just under 172,000 people in families with children were experiencing homelessness. While most people in families with children were in sheltered locations (90%), the number of unsheltered people in families increased by 13 percent. This increase offset a decline in sheltered people in families with children, so the overall level of family homelessness was essentially the same in 2020 as in 2019.
  • Between 2019 and 2020, the number of unsheltered veterans increased by six percent, offset by a three percent decline in sheltered veterans. Overall, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness remained unchanged, following considerable reductions in the population in prior years. Increases in unsheltered veterans occurred in all geographic types.
  • On a single night in 2020, 34,000 people under the age of 25 experienced homelessness on their own as “unaccompanied youth.” Most (90%) were between the ages of 18 and 24. Compared to all individuals experiencing homelessness, unaccompanied youth were more often non-white (52% of youth vs. 46% of all individuals), Hispanic/Latino (25% vs. 20%), female (39% vs. 29%), or identifying themselves other than as male or female (4% vs. 1%).
  • The number of individuals with chronic patterns of homelessness increased by fifteen percent between 2019 and 2020. While increases were reported among both sheltered and unsheltered populations, the sizable increase in the number of unsheltered people with chronic patterns of homelessness (21%) was the key driver.
  • African Americans and indigenous people (including Native Americans and Pacific Islanders) remained considerably overrepresented among the homeless population compared to the U.S. population. People identifying as black or African American accounted for 39 percent of all people experiencing homelessness and 53 percent of people experiencing homelessness as members of families with children but are 12 percent of the total U.S. population. Together, American Indian, Alaska Native, Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian populations account for one percent of the U.S. population, but five percent of the homeless population and seven percent of the unsheltered population. In contrast, 48 percent of all people experiencing homelessness were white compared with 74 percent of the U.S. population. People identifying as Hispanic or Latino (who can be of any race) are about 23 percent of the homeless population but only 16 percent of the population overall.