How Many Homeless People in America 2017


How Many Homeless People in America 2017

The issue of homelessness is a pressing concern in the United States. Despite being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness continues to rise. In 2017, the statistics painted a grim picture of the situation, highlighting the urgent need for action and support for those affected. This article will delve into the figures, causes, and potential solutions to address the plight of homeless individuals in America.

Understanding the Numbers

According to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, which is conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), on a single night in January 2017, there were approximately 553,742 homeless people in America. This figure included individuals staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs, or unsheltered locations such as streets or abandoned buildings. While this represented a 1% decrease from the previous year, the number remains alarmingly high.

Breakdown of the Homeless Population

Among the total homeless population, certain groups are particularly vulnerable. The report revealed that individuals experiencing chronic homelessness accounted for 24% of the total. These are individuals who have been homeless for a year or longer, or who have experienced homelessness at least four times over the past three years, and have a disabling condition.

Another vulnerable group is families with children, who accounted for 35% of the homeless population in 2017. This alarming figure emphasizes the challenges faced by families in finding stable housing and highlights the potential long-term impact on children’s well-being.

Causes of Homelessness

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The reasons for homelessness are multi-faceted and complex. One significant factor is the lack of affordable housing. With rising housing costs in many cities, individuals and families are increasingly unable to afford adequate shelter. Insufficient wages, unemployment, and poverty also contribute to the problem.

Additionally, mental illness and substance abuse play a role in homelessness. Many individuals experiencing homelessness struggle with these issues, making it difficult for them to maintain stable housing or seek employment.

Addressing the Issue

Efforts to combat homelessness require a multi-dimensional approach. Providing affordable housing is crucial, as it not only ensures individuals have a safe place to live but also offers stability and support in addressing other challenges they may face. Collaborations between federal, state, and local governments, along with nonprofit organizations, are necessary to achieve this goal.

Furthermore, interventions should focus on providing supportive services to individuals experiencing homelessness. This includes mental health and substance abuse treatment, job training, and access to healthcare. By addressing the underlying issues that contribute to homelessness, individuals are more likely to regain stability and reintegrate into society.


Q: Are homelessness rates increasing or decreasing in America?
A: While there was a 1% decrease in homelessness from 2016 to 2017, the overall trend in recent years has been an increase in the number of individuals experiencing homelessness.

Q: Are all homeless individuals living on the streets?
A: No, not all homeless individuals live on the streets. Some stay in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs.

Q: How can I help homeless individuals in my community?
A: There are several ways to help, including volunteering at homeless shelters, donating to organizations that provide services to the homeless, and advocating for affordable housing initiatives.

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Q: Are homeless individuals solely responsible for their situation?
A: Homelessness is often the result of a combination of factors, including economic hardship, lack of affordable housing, mental illness, and substance abuse. It is therefore important to approach the issue with empathy and understanding.

Q: What can the government do to address homelessness?
A: The government can allocate resources to provide affordable housing, increase funding for supportive services, and collaborate with nonprofit organizations to implement comprehensive solutions.

In conclusion, the number of homeless individuals in America remains a significant problem, requiring immediate attention and action. By understanding the figures, causes, and potential solutions, we can work together to alleviate this crisis and ensure that every person has a place to call home.