The State of Homelessness in the US

Published on: June 16, 2020. Updated on: October 20, 2020.

568k Individuals

experienced homelessness on a given night in 2019

About the Data Insights

Poor health can contribute to poverty, housing insecurity and ultimately, homelessness. Experiencing homelessness can both worsen existing health problems and cause new ones and make treating all conditions more challenging. This complex and bi-directional relationship between homelessness and health has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has led to an increase in unemployment, which could result in a rise in homelessness. For those already without a home, the ability to follow COVID-19 social distancing, self protection, or quarantining orders is difficult if not impossible. Homeless individuals infected by COVID-19 are estimated to be two to four times as likely to require critical care and two to three times as likely to die compared to the general population.

This infographic highlights the health challenges faced by the homeless community and outlines short and long term solutions to improve the health and well-being of these individuals, through social, economic and housing interventions.

Citations & Additional Resources
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Homelessness characteristics and link between homelessness, health and housing: National Health Care for the Homeless Council, Understanding Homelessness, Frequently Asked Questions

Chart on homelessness rates: National Alliance to End Homelessness, State of Homelessness: 2020 Edition

LGBTQ youth study statistic: Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Connection of Homelessness & Health, Statistics: National Health Care for the Homeless Council, data from Health Center Patient Survey (HCPS) 2009 shared in the Homelessness & Health: What’s the Connection? report, February 2019

COVID-19 Health Estimates: Estimated Emergency and Observational/Quarantine Bed Need for the US Homeless Population Related to COVID-19 Exposure by County; Projected Hospitalizations, Intensive Care Units and Mortality

Rapid & Transitional Housing Programs: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Interventions Offer Approaches To Tackling Homelessness

Health and Social Services: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Strategic Action Plan on Homelessness

Resource: NIHCM webinar on homelessness, health and COVID-19

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