HUD divides the US in 388 Continuums of Care (CoC), which are responsible for coordinating homelessness services in their area. These can be a city, a city and county (such as Spokane County in Washington, which includes the city of Spokane), or a group of rural areas. The data on the 48 large-city Continuums of Care reveals that 50.3% of the nation’s homeless people lived in its 50 biggest cities.
Which cities had the largest homeless populations in 2022?
Out of the 48 largest cities in the US, Los Angeles and New York had the largest homeless populations. Both identified over 60,000 homeless people in 2022.
Cities with the largest homeless populations in 2022, among 48 large city CoCs
Homeless population 2022
Los Angeles City & County
New York City
San Jose/Santa Clara City & County
Oakland, Berkeley/Alameda County
Sacramento City & County
Phoenix, Mesa/Maricopa County
San Diego City and County
In 2022, 44 of the 48 cities identified at least 1,000 homeless individuals.
However, people experience homelessness differently in each locality. For example, around 70% of homeless Los Angelenos were unsheltered, but 6% of homeless New Yorkers were.
San Jose/Santa Clara, CA, Raleigh/Wake County, NC, and Tucson/Pima County, AZ had the highest proportion of unsheltered homeless people, around 75%. Milwaukee, Boston, and New York City had the highest proportion of sheltered homeless people, over 94%. Given that homelessness counts occur during January, cities with colder climates tend to have higher proportions of sheltered people.
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How has homelessness changed since the pandemic began?
Fewer people stayed in shelters from 2020 to 2022, likely due to reduced pandemic capacity. Overall homelessness in major cities dropped by 3% as a result.
Meanwhile, the number of unsheltered homeless people grew by 6%.
Despite these shifts, the ranking of cities with the most homeless people has mostly remained the same as before the pandemic.
How was this data collected?
Communities count sheltered and unsheltered homeless people separately.
Sheltered people are counted based on information from homeless services such as emergency shelters and transitional housing.
Every January, each locality conducts a point-in-time count of unsheltered people (an unduplicated count on a single night of the homeless people in a locality). Every locality conducts its point-in-time count differently, but most cities make estimates based on a random sample of locations where homeless people are known to congregate.