California holds half of all 'unsheltered' homeless people in US

Six of the ten cities with the largest homeless populations in the US are in California.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
The US homeless population increased between 2020 and 2022 to over half a million Americans currently homeless, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This after a period of decline.

The report stated that 60 percent of the homeless were “staying in sheltered locations—emergency shelters, safe havens, or transitional housing programs—and four in ten (40%) were in unsheltered locations such as on the street, in abandoned buildings, or in other places not suitable for human habitation.”

"Between 2020 and 2022, the overall number of people experiencing homelessness increased by less than one percent (1,996 people). This increase reflects a three percent increase in people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, which was offset by a two percent decline in people staying in sheltered locations," the report reads.

Out of the 582,462 homeless individuals, two thirds are living in shelters with about half of all “unsheltered” homeless people located in California. This has led some cities in the Golden State to start cracking down on encampments in cities like Sacramento, San Jose and Oakland.

"More than half of all people experiencing homelessness in the country were in four states:
California (30% or 171,521 people); New York (13% or 74,178 people); Florida (5% or 25,959 people); and Washington (4% or 25,211)," the report read.

"California accounted for half of all unsheltered people in the country (115,491 people). This is more
than nine times the number of unsheltered people in the state with the next highest number, Washington," additionally, findings state that "California also had the highest rate of homelessness,
with 44 people experiencing homelessness out of every 10,000 people in the state."

Over half of the homeless population in the US (54 percent) is spread across the country's 50 largest cities and their respective surrounding areas.

22 percent of the nation’s unsheltered population live in just two cities, New York and Los Angeles. According to data from the Continuums of Care, which coordinates the response to homelessness, Los Angeles and Los Angeles County topped the list with 65,111 homeless residents, while New York City came in second at 61,840.

Despite the significant homeless population, there is a very low rate of unsheltered individuals (5.4 percent) in the Big Apple, likely due to the harsher climate than California and the city's right to shelter law, wherein anyone who comes looking for a bed is required by law to be provided one, according to the report.

Other states on the West Coast also have high rates for unsheltered homeless populations, with Seattle/King County rounding out the top three with 13,368.

Six of the ten cities with the largest homeless populations registered in 2022 are in California.

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