While the United States enjoy one of the strongest economies in the world, the benefits of the country’s economic growth is not felt evenly by its people. The 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress recorded at least 552,830 people experiencing homelessness in the United States.
How severe is the situation? Let’s first look into it in the city level.
Breaking down the distribution of homeless people in the US cities, here are the rankings:
The city with the largest number of people experiencing homelessness is New York City, accounting for 78, 676 of the total homeless population. Meanwhile, four of the top ten cities with the most homeless people belong to the state of California.
How about if we zoom in and look at the bigger picture — how bad is the situation of homelessness in the state level?
In terms of sheer number, here are the five states with the most people experiencing homelessness:
- California (24% or 129,972 people);
- New York (17% or 91,897 people);
- Florida (6% or 31,030 people);
- Texas (5% or 25,310 people);
- Washington (4% or 22,304 people)
In the top of the list is California, accounting for 24% of the US homeless population.
There are existing programs to provide shelter to homeless people in the US. However, a lot of the homeless remained unsheltered.
The following states recorded the highest and lowest rates of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness as of January 2018.
In this perspective, California remains to be on the top. 68.9% of the 129, 972 people in the state are recorded to be unsheltered.
Meanwhile, the state of Maine recorded the lowest rate of being unsheltered among the homeless. Only 3.9% (98 people)of 2,516 of the homeless people are unsheltered.
For the short-term, strengthening the programs that will provide shelter for the homeless must be looked upon. The long-term step is seeking strategies to ultimately end homelessness.
Investing in ending homelessness may seem like a lot of money to spend. For the long run, however, countries which have chosen to do so actually saved money.
In Finland, the Housing First Scheme is being implemented. Unlike other homelessness policies where participants are to sort out the problems leading to their homelessness first, Housing First provides the homeless a roof over their heads first.
This resulted to the homeless population of Finland dwindling down steadily in the previous years. In terms of services they need, up to 9, 600 euros (around US$ 10,500) is saved for each homeless person.
A wake-up call
Having a home is arguably one of the most basic needs that each person should have. Yet, a lot of us remains homeless until now. These numbers are more than just records — this is a reminder to our leaders that there are multitudes of people that they can aid and empower.