Yesterday I wrote about the Department of Housing and Urban Development annual homelessness report. In it were indications that climate change has already begun to negatively influence the number of people without permanent homes.
But while reading through the report, I saw some other interesting numbers that I wanted to look at separately. They involve racial and gender disparities in how people experience homelessness.
HUD’s 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress is based on a single night in January 2018, because people enter and leave homelessness, so talking about a fixed population is difficult.
On that night, 48.9% of all the 552,830 people counted as homeless were white. But 72% of the population, according to HUD, is white (although as they don’t break out non-Hispanic white as the Census Bureau does, the 72% may be overstated). So, whites are underrepresented among the homeless. That shouldn’t be a surprise. They’re also underrepresented among the poor, although they form the largest group of impoverished people.
African Americans, who make up about 13% of the general population, were 39.8% of homeless people during the count, or triple their percentage of the population. Native Americans are heavily overrepresented among the homeless, being 1.5% of the population but 2.8% of the homeless. It’s not as great a degree of overrepresentation as African Americans but still almost double. Pacific Islanders are about 0.5% of the population but 1.5% of the homeless.
Men and boys, at 60.2%, were an enormous percentage of the homeless in comparison to women and girls at 39.1%. Transgender people, while about 0.6% of the population, were 0.7% of the homeless. As for gender nonconforming, they were 0.3% of the homeless, but I’ve yet to find seemingly reliable statistics that show their percentage of the general population.
As far as age, the people most likely to be homeless are 24 and over at 89.7%.
One statistic that is important in terms of considering how to address homelessness is the distribution. More than half of the homeless during the count were in California (30%), New York (11%), Florida (6%), and Texas (5%). While Hawaii didn’t make the top few, its rate of individual homelessness was about as high as that of California, more than 2.5 times the national average.