U.S. Cities with the Most Homeless People

Name the urban areas of the United States which most people living on the streets, in cars, or in tents.
2019 data. Source.
Based on Combined Statistical Areas (CSA)
Change = change since 2009
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: October 27, 2020
First submittedDecember 9, 2016
Times taken25,452
Rating4.16
2:30
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# People
% Change
City
52,930
+ 82
Los Angeles
24,607
+ 69
San Francisco
6,456
+ 66
Seattle
4,643
+ 63
Miami
4,476
+ 15
San Diego
3,900
+ 221
Sacramento
# People
% Change
City
3,622
+ 56
New York City
3,317
+ 13
Las Vegas
3,188
+ 19
Phoenix
2,524
+ 27
Portland
2,403
+ 131
Honolulu
+4
Level 75
Dec 9, 2016
Why does LA have the same number of homeless as the rest of this list combined?
+6
Level 84
Dec 9, 2016
Climate perhaps?
+35
Level 72
Dec 13, 2016
Huge city + high cost of living + lots of drugs + warm all year = a lot of people on the streets.
+17
Level 59
Oct 28, 2020
The socialist policies (extreme taxation and regulation of everything) is making companies have to leave the state, and go to freer ones, leaving thousands without jobs.
+2
Level 61
Nov 27, 2020
Yep
+13
Level 69
Nov 27, 2020
There's always one.
+27
Level 60
Nov 27, 2020
The companies do not have to leave, they choose to leave, because they are desperate for huge profit and do not give a damn for the country they are in. Stop victimizing companies!
+25
Level 68
Nov 27, 2020
"The socialist policies" in the most capitalistic country on earth where you literally die if you cannot afford the cost for healthcare.
+30
Level 68
Nov 27, 2020
I think you need to read about what socialism is. I'm Danish which is more to the left than Democrats and we aren't socialists.. But I don't mind paying a bit more to ensure everyone can get a free education and healthcare, 12 months of maternatiy/paternaty etc. on top of the tax money that go to maintaining infrastructure, fire departments, police etc..
+8
Level 46
Nov 27, 2020
socialism..?????????????????
+3
Level 76
Nov 27, 2020
Housing policy has a lot to do with it is as well. There's a reason no big Texas cities are on this list.
+7
Level 50
Nov 27, 2020
Cite one "socialist" policy. Go on, just one, that is driving up homelessness.
+2
Level 32
Nov 28, 2020
Nathaniel: yes, they chose to leave, but they have a little choice to stay due to state taxation and unreasonable bureaucracy ... no reasonable company will decide to relocate and undergo LOTS of hassle for no reason.

You chose to go to work every day as well after all ... you don't have to, you can be homeless (if I'm going to use similar populist example as you).

+1
Level 50
Nov 29, 2020
@detkoeu, but that's the problem, many companies will undergo 'LOTS of hassle' for no reason. sometimes this is manifested in the >>Insert concept I can't remember and couldn't find online<<, it's a thing where there are 2 ice cream parlors on a beach, on different sides of the beach. At a certain point, one parlor moves a bit closer to the other to leach off of some of their customers. So as not to lose profit, the other does the same. this keeps going until they are in the center of the beach instead of opposite sides, resulting in a minimal or no gain/loss in profit for the companies, but a net loss for consumers. Sometimes companies really just need a bit of profit, but often not.
+3
Level 63
Nov 30, 2020
If it was anything close to socialism, they'd provide housing for the poor.
+1
Level 33
Nov 27, 2020
missed Seattle, Portland and Honolulu
+1
Level 25
Nov 28, 2020
Same
+6
Level 56
Nov 27, 2020
Because L.A. doesn't criminalize homelessness. Many other cities used to (and still do) buy homeless people bus tickets to L.A. to get them out of their own city. It's taking on the bad results of other cities' irresponsible policies much like blue states as a whole fund the citizenry of red states who behave fiscally irresponsibly.
+2
Level 50
Nov 27, 2020
Climate to a large degree.
+11
Level 65
Dec 9, 2016
The west coast is well-represented on this list
+5
Level 72
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 ∞
Oct 27, 2020
Miami is on the list now that I've combined the urban areas together.
+19
Level 70
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 47
Nov 27, 2020
They are still over represented in American homelessness?
+3
Level 73
Dec 9, 2016
Sad facts...
+2
Level 61
Dec 10, 2016
NYC? Quite shocked...
+4
Level 87
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.
+25
Level 72
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.
+5
Level 65
Apr 18, 2017
I think he was being sarcastic.
+4
Level 66
Nov 27, 2020
Yeah, I'm shocked by how low the number is. I've seen quite a few homeless people in New York and yet this number is barely a dent in the population of the city as a whole. Also quite surprised at the absence of Philly and Chicago.
+8
Level 72
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.
+2
Level 70
Mar 17, 2017
Thanks for the reference. My figures seem much higher, especially for New York.
+17
Level 58
Apr 18, 2017
All cities in Democrat States.
+67
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.
+12
Level 72
May 16, 2017
BURNED
+3
Level 71
Sep 27, 2020
Not to mention the fact that the large majority of people in the US live in Democrat states
+26
Level ∞
Oct 27, 2020
Revisiting this three years later, I do think my above comment is true. That said, it's clear to me that local governments are enabling drug abuse and criminal behavior. Here in Seattle, the prosecutor refuses to prosecute all but the most serious crimes. More and more parks are being taken over by encampments, and it has led to a large decline in the quality of life. When I walk around my neighborhood, I often encounter trash, and sometimes needles and human excrement as well. I'm not sure that letting people live in squalor and addiction is doing them any favors. The homeless would likely be better served by staying within their local communities instead of migrating to the encampments on the west coast.

It's time for cities like to Seattle to realize that their policies are a colossal failure and it's time to reverse course. Unfortunately, they are doing the opposite and doubling down on the same policies which created the mess.

+3
Level 70
Nov 10, 2020
I could not agree more. I lived in San Francisco for 12 years, and watched as an ongoing problem evolved into a major crisis. I lived in Portland for the next 12 years, and witnessed a very small issue become a huge issue. Homeless advocacy almost always centers on extending the rights of homeless (to camp in public parks, in storefronts, etc.) or about getting them free services, and very seldom about getting people jobs, off drugs and alcohol, mental health help. Life becomes virtually unlivable for the very people these places tax to support the services others exploit. It is unsustainable.
+2
Level 51
Nov 27, 2020
I hear this claim a lot. Is there evidence that a large number of people are moving to West Coast cities after becoming homeless?
+1
Level 60
Nov 27, 2020
What is your opinion on Oregon decriminalizing LSD, ecstasy, etc.?
+2
Level 60
Nov 27, 2020
quizmaster start voting GOP to improve your country!
+2
Level 66
Nov 27, 2020
Building off SpencerGT, can homeless people from across the country *really* migrate all the way to the West Coast? I feel like if you don't have a home and are generally poor, spending tons of money going from one coast to another doesn't make much sense. I always thought it was more to do with high rent costs on the West Coast, which means most of these homeless were already natives to their city.
+1
Level 80
Nov 27, 2020
Homeless tend not to move. Many homeless are actually the working poor but can't afford the over priced rent. This is especially true on the West Coast. The poor can migrate with assistance though. My rust belt city was the recipient of Toronto migrants facilitated by free bus tickets offered by the City of Toronto -- they have since banned the practice.
+6
Level 69
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 56
Oct 30, 2020
True. The policies of the left coast encourage dependency, illegal activity, and homeless behaviors, and do everything they can to make others pay for it and further it, while taking the rights of actual law-abiding citizens who actually produce wealth and live responsibly.
+2
Level 50
Nov 27, 2020
"homeless behaviours." Seriously, can't we get over this misguided narrative. Except in very rare circumstances, people do not choose to be homeless. Also your suggestion in that comment that homeless people are not law-abiding, and that the two are inextricably related, is highly problematic, as well as downright false.
+2
Level 54
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.
+4
Level ∞
Oct 27, 2020
New Orleans had 7,094 in 2009 but now only 430!
+1
Level 47
Nov 27, 2020
I lived in Oahu and can say that Hawaii had a very noticeable homeless situation.
+2
Level 62
Apr 18, 2017
I truly am surprised that the majority of the cities are on teh West Coast.
+6
Level ∞
Oct 27, 2020
Haven't been to the west coast, I see :)
+3
Level 65
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 57
Apr 18, 2017
No one asking why Los Angeles is WAAAAAAY off the charts???
+11
Level 50
Apr 18, 2017
Combining what others have said: third largest city in America, year-round survivable climate, social services in place = zero surprise.
+6
Level 54
Oct 28, 2020
2nd-largest, actually.
+8
Level 82
Sep 10, 2018
Do you not bother to read the earlier comments before posting? That was LITERALLY the first question asked.
+8
Level 85
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 23
Aug 22, 2017
nice quiz check out my quizzes please
+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.
+6
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.
+10
Level 70
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 45
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.
+3
Level 34
Apr 3, 2018
Philadelphia?
+3
Level 76
Apr 30, 2018
I feel deeply sorry for the homeless of Chicago in the winter...
+2
Level 59
Aug 3, 2018
Surprised not to see New Orleans, Detroit, and Miami on here.
+2
Level 53
Feb 21, 2019
Honolulu is where the homeless go on vacation
+1
Level 66
Apr 8, 2019
There are over 5000 homeless people in houston
+3
Level ∞
Apr 8, 2019
This quiz is about unsheltered homeless people.
+3
Level 51
May 24, 2019
Washington DC?
+1
Level 54
Oct 28, 2020
Being honest, these percentages are probably even higher because of coronavirus (the people who lost their jobs and couldn't afford housing anymore).
+2
Level 57
Nov 27, 2020
somewhat surprised Chicago didn't make the list -- ik it's cold in the winter but damn LA must be crazy since it's not that much bigger
+1
Level 69
Nov 27, 2020
How does Honolulu make the list but not Chicago and Detroit? Are the homeless people just shot or something? Like I'm genuinely shocked that a city like Phoenix which is mostly suburban anyways has more homeless people than the rust belt cities.
+2
Level 47
Nov 27, 2020
I think migration opportunities are limited on the Hawaiian islands. Add the cost of living, you have beaches filled with tent communities, some of the communities have children too. It got a lot better, they moved a lot of them to Waianae but its like sweeping dust under the rug.
+1
Level 60
May 1, 2021
Like the above comment said, migration opportunities are limited from Hawaii, as leaving would require an expensive plane ride that many homeless people couldn't afford, however, people in Chicago or Detroit could easily migrate to somewhere warmer with a cheap bus ticket instead of freezing to death in winter, which would not happen in Honolulu.
+1
Level 47
Nov 27, 2020
Theres a couple theories. There is, Los Angeles is a better place to be homeless given all the social programs and weather is better for sleeping outside.

Another thing to look at is Californias taxes are very high. If you were adjust Californias poverty rate to reflect the cost of living, California would have some of the poorest communities.

+1
Level 43
Nov 27, 2020
I am not from the USA but I am suprised Chicago isn’t on here.
+3
Level 60
Nov 27, 2020
notice that all cities are democrat run...

hmmmm

+5
Level 71
Nov 27, 2020
This is a quiz that's looking at total numbers, not per-capita numbers. That means that just being a large city goes a long way towards being on this list. And most large cities are run by democrats, because most democrats live in large cities.
+1
Level 58
Nov 27, 2020
California dreamin'
+1
Level 67
Apr 24, 2021
Weird no Chicago