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Homelessness in the U.S. (and the 567,175 who need your help)

“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice.” -- Nelson Mandela.

On any given night, in the richest country in the world, more than 500,000 people will go to bed homeless. Often the count is much higher. Like on the chilly (pre-COVID) evening in January 2019, when HUD pegged the heartbreaking total at 567,175.

HUD is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, an agency that collects and reports homelessness data to Congress. The statistic 567,175 comes from HUD’s 2019 ‘Point-in-Time Count’ report, which revealed that 17 of every 10,000 people in the U.S. had no home.

Authorities worry that a lagging economy and surge in unemployment could spike evictions, pushing even more people onto the streets. The concern may be well founded, as the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project projects that up to 23 million (largely low-income) renters could be dislodged by late 2020.  

What is Homelessness?

HUD says individuals are homeless if they live in a place not meant for human habitation or are likely to lose their housing within two weeks. Unaccompanied youth and families with children and are considered homeless if they have 1) not had a lease or ownership interest in a housing unit in the last 60 or more days or 2) had two or more moves in the last 60 days, and are likely to continue being unstably housed because of disability or multiple other barriers to employment. 

Who are the Homeless?

Affected groups and their percentage of the total U.S. homeless population include:

  • Individuals: people who live on their own or in the company of other adults (70%); families with children (30%).
  • Unsheltered homeless: those who sleep outside and in other locations not meant for human habitation (50% of homeless individuals live this way).
  • Prioritized’ Groups:  
    • The chronically homeless: those who are disabled and have experienced long-term and/or repeated episodes of homelessness (17%)
    • Military veterans: (7%).
    • Unaccompanied youth: a highly vulnerable group under age 25 (6%) 

To learn more about terms related to homelessness and homeless services, check out these online glossaries posted by the cities of Los Angeles, CA and Austin, TX.

We also recommend reading the ‘State of Homelessness: 2020 Edition,’ published by a charity that we support called the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Others include:

When you buy INVOLVD’s ‘567,175’ t-shirt, we will donate a portion of your sale to one of these organizations.

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