Home / Economy / Articles / Which states have the highest and lowest rates of homelessness?

About 582,000 Americans are experiencing homelessness, according to 2022 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data. That’s 18 per 10,000 people nationally, but in some states, rates skew as high as 44 per 10,000.

California, Vermont, and Oregon have the highest rates of homelessness across the 50 states. Washington, DC, however, had the highest rate overall at 65.6 per 10,000 people. Mississippi had the lowest, at 4.1 per 10,000 people.

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In terms of sheer numbers, California had the most people experiencing homelessness: 171,521. New York had the nation’s second-most, 74,178, followed by Florida with 25,959.

Homelessness isn’t restricted to urban areas. Vermont is the most rural state, with 65% of its population residing in rural areas, and had one of the highest rates of homelessness in 2022.

Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have the highest rate of homelessness in the US at 121 per 10,000 people, reflected in the high homelessness rates in Hawaii. This could partially be because of Hawaii’s lack of affordable housing. Many native Hawaiians are also on wait lists for home land leases.

However, homelessness doesn't look the same in every state. In Vermont, 98% of homeless people were sheltered, while 67% of homeless Californians were unsheltered.

Why do some states have higher rates of homelessness?

Housing costs play a role in rates of homelessness. Hawaii, California, and Washington, DC, have the nation’s highest housing costs and have high rates of homelessness. West Virginia and Mississippi have the country’s least expensive homes and fewer homeless people.

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These figures are likely also affected by difficulties counting the homeless population. Rural states and states with lots of unsheltered homeless people face unique challenges in estimating their homeless populations.

Read more about difficulties counting homeless populations, learn about standard of living in the US, and get the facts every week by signing up for our newsletter.

2022 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress
Last updated
February 2023