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U.S. Cities with the Most Homeless People

Name the U.S. cities that have the most people living on the streets, in cars, or in tents.
Based on one-night counts of unsheltered homeless people from 2015 and 2016
Quiz idea: Joez
By city proper, not metro area
Quiz by Quizmaster
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First submittedDecember 9, 2016
Last updatedDecember 9, 2016
Times taken16,156
Rating3.82
2:30
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#
City
21,338
Los Angeles
4,358
San Francisco
2,942
Seattle
2,810
San Jose
2,794
New York City
2,745
San Diego
#
City
2,345
Long Beach
≈ 2,000
Las Vegas
1,711
Portland
1,243
Chicago
1,005
Honolulu
+1
level ∞
Dec 9, 2016
This quiz uses the one-night counts of homeless populations performed by the various cities and counties. There is no single accurate source for this data, so I had to compile it manually. The number for Las Vegas is an estimate based on the 3,916 people living unsheltered in Clark County.
+1
level ∞
Dec 10, 2016
Also Oakland might make the list too, but I'm not sure. There were 2,337 unsheltered people in 2013 in Alameda County. Not sure what the numbers are for Oakland.
+1
level 52
Apr 9, 2019
I've been to Portland and Oakland and I think Oakland has more homeless people.
+1
level 71
Dec 9, 2016
Why does LA have the same number of homeless as the rest of this list combined?
+1
level 80
Dec 9, 2016
Climate perhaps?
+4
level 71
Dec 13, 2016
Huge city + high cost of living + lots of drugs + warm all year = a lot of people on the streets.
+3
level 44
Apr 18, 2017
@amarsh1213 you realise that warm is relative right? It's almost never below freezing in LA. Compare that to NYC where the is a chance of it being below freezing for at least 3 months out of the year.
+4
level 66
Dec 9, 2016
The west coast is well-represented on this list
+2
level 71
Dec 13, 2016
I was surprised not to see Miami on the list. There were homeless people everywhere when I was there last and they were hit hardest by the real estate bubble.
+2
level 66
Apr 18, 2017
The West Coast is where it's possible to live outside all year without dying. Also, 17% of the population of the U.S live in the states of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Hawaii.
+1
level 69
Dec 9, 2016
Sad facts...
+1
level 63
Dec 10, 2016
NYC? Quite shocked...
+1
level 83
Dec 10, 2016
Why? Have you never been there? Or seen it represented in film or on television? There's a very good reason 98% get it right, you know.
+3
level 71
Dec 13, 2016
2,794 homeless in such a massive city seems impressively low to me. I'd think the number would be way higher.
+2
level 61
Apr 18, 2017
I think he was being sarcastic.
+2
level 70
Dec 11, 2016
I'm sure a lot of the West Coast is because of the mild climate, not very cold in the winter and not too hot in the summer . . . except Las Vegas.
+1
level 69
Mar 17, 2017
Thanks for the reference. My figures seem much higher, especially for New York.
+3
level 57
Apr 18, 2017
All cities in Democrat States.
+17
level ∞
Apr 18, 2017
Not surprising at all. People are free to migrate wherever they like within the U.S.. Cities like Seattle are very tolerant towards homeless people, and spend a large amount of money on services directed towards them. The relative lack of homeless people in the conservative areas is probably a reflection of the lack of services. Generally speaking, cities on the West Coast are doing the rest of the country a service by shouldering a greater amount of the burden.
+5
level 66
May 16, 2017
BURNED
+1
level 65
Dec 17, 2018
Agreed with Quizmaster's reply. Also I would guess a large part of these statistics has to do with methods for counting homeless populations. Why bother counting them if you're not going to do anything to help them? That being said, I am certain that both Philly and Baltimore have more than 1,000 homeless people.
+1
level 51
Apr 18, 2017
New Orleans? I know they've had great success reducing the numbers since Katrina, but surely they have more than Honolulu...
+1
level 46
Apr 19, 2017
They are similar is population size, but it's a lot harder to leave Honolulu and start anew than it is to leave New Orleans. I imagine there are a lot of lifetime homeless folks in Hawaii.
+2
level 61
Apr 18, 2017
I truly am surprised that the majority of the cities are on teh West Coast.
+1
level 66
Apr 18, 2017
Having lived in both downtown Seattle + San Francisco, I feel like these numbers are an undercount, but that's probably totally skewed by perspective.
+2
level 67
Apr 18, 2017
It's worth pointing out that these numbers aren't necessarily an indication of anything, politically speaking. Quizmaster mentioned that there is no single accurate source for this data, so he had to compile it from all over. That means you're looking at numbers compiled by dozens if not hundreds of different people, using god only knows how many different methods. Also, one-night counts aren't a particularly reliable way to measure either, because we have no way of knowing 1) if those numbers were the same a day later, a week later, a month later; 2) what days or times of year these numbers were collected; 3) whether they were even reported honestly. In short, it's an interesting quiz, but it would be a mistake to take it as indicative of anything at all.
+1
level ∞
Apr 18, 2017
I think the data is good enough. It's certainly better than anything else that exists.
+1
level 67
Apr 19, 2017
I didn't mean to impugn your data collection, merely to point out that it isn't necessarily a 100% apples-to-apples comparison, and therefore people should be careful about drawing any sort of political conclusions from it.
+1
level 67
Oct 24, 2018
I worked for the organization that did the homeless count in Times Square. The criterion was a person was counted as homeless if s/he was sleeping on the ground. If that person was sitting, they weren't presumed homeless. Not many living in cars in Times Square, of course, but people in homeless shelters in our catchment weren't counted. Nor were people hanging out, clearly homeless, but just waiting in 24-hour delis and cafes. There was a distinction between homeless and undomiciled. As you can imagine, cities have incentives to undercount.
+1
level ∞
Apr 8, 2019
Much of the time, counts are done by homeless advocacy groups who if anything have a large incentive to overcount. But it varies by city. Until we fit everyone with a tracking device it's impossible to have a perfectly accurate count.
+1
level 51
Apr 18, 2017
No one asking why Los Angeles is WAAAAAAY off the charts???
+2
level 49
Apr 18, 2017
Combining what others have said: third largest city in America, year-round survivable climate, social services in place = zero surprise.
+1
level 79
Sep 10, 2018
Do you not bother to read the earlier comments before posting? That was LITERALLY the first question asked.
+1
level 46
Apr 18, 2017
Not a good source
+2
level 67
Oct 14, 2017
Do you have a better one? I'm sure Quizmaster would be happy to use it.
+1
level ∞
Apr 8, 2019
It actually took a lot of work to compile these numbers. As far as I know, it's the only accurate compilation of one-night counts that exists on the internet. Most other sources conflate sheltered homeless with unsheltered homeless.
+2
level 79
Apr 18, 2017
For some reason I have the urge to type in Detroit every time a quiz about US cities in a negative light is featured. Sometimes it works, other times not so much.
+1
level 43
Apr 26, 2017
There are quite a few here so you're not wrong... Surprised it didn't make the list for sure.
+1
level 67
Sep 28, 2017
Probably because it's too cold in the winter to sustain as high a number as these other cities. Except for New York and Chicago, which are two of the three largest cities in the nation, this list is dominated by cities on the west coast. That's most likely because people can survive year-round on the streets in the warmer climate there.
+1
level 16
Aug 22, 2017
nice quiz check out my quizzes please
+1
level 48
Sep 22, 2017
i lived in SF up until 2014 and i GUARANTEE YOU there are more than 4,000+ homeless people, it's more like 20,000.
+1
level 49
Oct 14, 2017
Downtown Toronto has a huge amount of homeless people and is one of the coldest cities in North America, so that alone shoots the theory of warmer climates= more homeless people.
+1
level 67
Apr 3, 2018
Not really. Since Toronto is in Canada, leaving there to go somewhere warm would not be as easy as moving to a warmer place within the US. Also, I don't know whether Canada's more affordable medical care extends to homeless people, but if they do then that would disincentivize people from leaving there to go somewhere warmer.
+1
level 67
Nov 9, 2018
And yet Toronto is one of the warmest cities in Canada, and certainly the warmest big city. To get anywhere warmer they'd have to either cross the entire country to get to British Columbia, or leave the country entirely. Which would you recommend to them?
+1
level 32
Apr 3, 2018
How many cities report these counts? I'm not surprised that Los Angeles and San Francisco are near the top, but wondering if other California cities are included because they have a larger homeless population, or just more reported data.
+1
level 35
Apr 3, 2018
Philadelphia?
+1
level 69
Apr 30, 2018
I feel deeply sorry for the homeless of Chicago in the winter...
+1
level 54
Aug 3, 2018
Surprised not to see New Orleans, Detroit, and Miami on here.
+1
level 53
Feb 21, 2019
Honolulu is where the homeless go on vacation
+1
level 33
Apr 8, 2019
There are over 5000 homeless people in houston
+1
level ∞
Apr 8, 2019
This quiz is about unsheltered homeless people.
+1
level 35
May 24, 2019
Washington DC?