At Growing Us Home, our mission is to help the homeless in America. In this article, we dive into what it means and looks like to be homeless in America.
Homelessness takes on many forms in America. There are some specific subpopulations that are looked at most closely when quantifying this crisis. Children and youths are a main concern as they are more vulnerable than adults typically. Unaccompanied youths make up about 6% of the total homeless population, but families with children make up about 30% of the homeless population.
Another major group to look at are those experiencing chronic homelessness. In order to be considered chronically homeless, a person must be homeless for at least a year or have been homeless at least 4 times in the past 3 years with that time adding up to more than a year. This group is one of the most concerning groups and it makes up close to 20% of the homeless population.
The areas with the most homeless in America tend to be cities and urban areas. Different cities and counties all have different resources and services available to mitigate the impact of homelessness. Some cities like New York City have a great number of temporary shelters that can provide an indoor place to sleep for more than 50,000 homeless people. Other cities like Los Angeles are quite lacking on that front and can only shelter around 12,000 people.
Homeless in America & Sheltering
Shelters are a great way to help people temporarily, but no city has a perfect shelter system that can account for all of their homeless. Chronically homeless individuals and unaccompanied youths tend to be unsheltered more often which further contributes to their vulnerability.
One way that homeless people have found to provide themselves with shelter is through the use of tents. While this is a great use of resources on their part, it does not look appealing in cities to see lines of tents on the street. Los Angeles has come to be known for its “Tent City '' composed of homeless people camping in tents in a certain area. The number of homeless in California has been on the rise in recent years and is expected to continue due to the Covid-19 pandemic and economic hardships. As the homeless epidemic continues, cities like Los Angeles that don’t have enough shelters will continue to see a rise in homeless on the streets.
When it comes to more rural areas, it is a lot harder to get an accurate count of the homeless individuals. There are less shelters and established programs in rural areas. Many homeless in these areas are able to find shelter with family and friends or receive help from local churches, but some people take to the wilderness on their own or in groups.. In fact, homeless people in largely rural areas are more likely to be unsheltered than those in urban and suburban areas.
Regardless of the area or resources available, being homeless in America is an issue that affects all kinds of people including a lot of families and children. Homelessness is represented in every state in America and there are not enough established shelters and organizations to help these people who have fallen on hard times.
A great source of National Statistics is the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.