HUD Annual Homeless Assessment Shows Increase in Homelessness

HUD released The 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress last week. The assessment reveals that 553,742 people were homeless in the United States on a single night in January 2017, a 1% increase from 2016. Some states and municipalities saw dramatic increases in homelessness over the past year, and unsheltered homeless individuals experienced a marked increase as well. This is the first increase in homelessness since 2007; the national population of people experiencing homelessness had fallen by 14% since that time, according to HUD 

Sixty-five percent of the homeless population was sheltered in either emergency shelters or transitional housing programs. Thirty-five percent were unsheltered, meaning their primary nighttime location was a public or private place not ordinarily used for sleeping, such as a vehicle, park, or street. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of unsheltered homeless people increased by 9% (by 16,518 people), marking the second consecutive annual increase. Much of this increase in the unsheltered population occurred in cities. In four states, more than half of the homeless population was unsheltered: California (68.2%), Nevada (58.4%), Oregon (57.1%), and Hawaii (52.6%).

One-third of the homeless population were families. On average, these families consisted of three people. One-fifth of the homeless population (114,829 people) were children under the age of 18. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of children experiencing homelessness decreased by 5,990 (5%). More than 90% of homeless families were sheltered, leaving 16,938 people in families unsheltered. 

Unaccompanied youths under the age of 25 accounted for 7% (40,799 people) of the homeless population. HUD defines unaccompanied youths as individuals under the age of 25 who are not accompanied by parents or guardians and are not parents sleeping in the same place as their children. Fifty-five percent of unaccompanied homeless youths were unsheltered compared to 35% of the total homeless population.

Half of the homeless population was located five states: California (25%), New York (16%), Florida (6%), Texas (4%) and Washington State (4%). Between 2016 and 2017, the number of homeless people increased in 20 states. The largest increases occurred in California (16,136), New York (3,151), and Oregon (715). Thirty states and the District of Columbia saw a decline. The largest declines occurred in Georgia (-2,735), Massachusetts (-2,043), and Florida (-1,369). Between 2007 and 2017, 14 states and the District of Columbia saw increases in the number of people experiencing homelessness. The largest absolute increases occurred in New York (26,902, a 43% increase), Massachusetts (2,438, a 16% increase), and the District of Columbia (2,153, a 41% increase).

The AHAR is based on a Point-in-Time (PIT) count, which takes a “snapshot” of the homeless population on one night in January. PITs count the number of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on that night. The data are collected by Continuums of Care, which are local planning bodies responsible for coordinating homelessness services.

The 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress is available at: