Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University

Facts on the Homeless

How many homeless people are there in the United States?

  • An estimated 1 to 2 million on any given night
  • In the past 5 years, 5.7 million experienced a significant period of homelessness.
  • 13.5 million people have experienced homelessness at least once in their life.

— National Health Care for the Homeless Council

What are the demographics of the homeless in the United States?

  • Single men 44%
  • Single women 13%
  • Families with children 36%
  • Unaccompanied minors 7%
  • 44% of adults worked for pay in past month
  • 30% have been homeless over 2 years
  • 22% have been physically assaulted
  • 38% have had things stolen from them
  • 28% report problems getting enough to eat

— U.S. Conference of Mayors

Who is homeless in Philadelphia?

Age Percentage
18-25 9
26-45 49
46-65 40
65+ 3

Data taken from Project H.O.M.E

What is the racial distribution of persons in Philadelphia shelters?

Race/Ethnicity Percentage
African-American 80
Latino/a 6
White 13
Asian-American < 1
Other < 1
Children in families constitute approximately a third of the shelter population on any given night.

Data taken from Project H.O.M.E.

What are some of the factors that lead to homelessness?

Many factors put people at risk of homelessness. Systemic issues of unemployment, low wages, expensive housing, lack of health insurance and racial discrimination combine with common personal issues such as domestic violence, abuse of alcohol and other drugs, and serious mental and physical illnesses to create this persistent social problem.

How is healthcare for the homeless different that caring for people with homes?

Homeless people are particular victims of certain diseases. Approximately one-third have mental illnesses. Up to one-half have a current or past drug or alcohol addiction. Communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other infections, ravage the homeless population. Trauma resulting from violence and conditions caused by exposure are also common among homeless people. Homeless people also have all the same health problems as people with homes, but at rates three to six times greater than housed people. Without a home, there is no place to recuperate from an illness or to treat an injury, and health problems tend to get far worse before they get better.

— National Health Care for the Homeless Council