U.S. States with the Most Homeless People

Name the 10 U.S. states that have the most people living on the streets, in cars, or in tents.
2019 data. Source.
Change = change since 2009
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: October 26, 2020
First submittedJune 10, 2018
Times taken24,498
Rating4.21
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#
Change
State
108,432
+ 48%
California
12,476
- 63%
Florida
11,222
- 26%
Texas
10,142
+ 3%
Oregon
9,557
+ 46%
Washington
4,532
- 29%
Arizona
4,047
+ 12%
New York
3,880
- 65%
Georgia
3,807
+ 15%
Nevada
3,640
+ 45%
Hawaii
+23
Level ∞
Oct 26, 2020
FYI, the lowest state is North Dakota with 12.
+24
Level 74
Jun 11, 2018
These people would be the hardest to find and to count, so I'm not sure how accurate this is.
+7
Level 77
Jun 11, 2018
Not the absolute numbers, but presumably they are similarly hard to find in all states.
+5
Level 70
Nov 10, 2020
A lot might depend on how hard each state (or municipality) is working to do such counts. Jurisdictions must also differ in how quickly and frequently people in this situation are incarcerated (and thus removed from such counts).
+6
Level 67
Aug 13, 2018
At least all the data is coming from one source this time. Quizmaster had to compile it from various sources himself for older versions of this quiz. He did a great job, but with data coming from all over it was hard to know if it was all collected with similar degrees of accuracy.
+2
Level 56
Aug 14, 2018
On designated days, volunteers in California go out street by street to count homeless people.
+3
Level ∞
Oct 26, 2020
Yes, this is based on "point in time" counts where volunteers try to find all the people living on the streets on a single night.
+2
Level 71
Jun 11, 2018
Only one I missed was Georgia. The rest were pretty obvious.
+3
Level 81
Aug 13, 2018
The rest are pretty inaccurate. Take one look around Chicago, Illinois and Detroit, Michigan.
+20
Level 63
Aug 14, 2018
How things are perceived are often very different from the facts.
+5
Level 53
Mar 22, 2019
Go look around literally any city. Baltimore or Memphis or New Orleans or any other. This quiz was about states, anyhow.
+1
Level 81
Oct 13, 2019
Less than 4,000 homeless in Chicago's metro area of 10 million? Less than 4,000 people squatting in abandoned, windowless, unheated, unlit houses in Detroit? 4,500 of New York City's 8.7 million, let alone the other 11 million in NY State?
+3
Level ∞
Oct 26, 2020
The numbers also seem plausible based on what I've seen in real life. Where would you rather be homeless? Detroit or Los Angeles? A cross country bus ticket is not that expensive.
+1
Level 83
Oct 26, 2020
San Francisco, where "homeless" means "making less than $100k a year".
+1
Level 81
Oct 26, 2020
Only 12 people living in their cars in North Dakota? People breaking up in a relationship, the great influx of oil workers with a housing shortage in small towns. There must be more than 12 people a day camping behind the wheel or in a tent because they don't have a permanent place.

I can personally visualize about 25-30% of my state's homeless population. If I really made the effort across the entire state I'm sure I could tally the low number by myself.

+7
Level 74
Jul 13, 2018
Interesting how it is mainly liberal states that have higher homeless populations. I assume it is because it is the high cost of living in those areas.
+41
Level ∞
Jul 13, 2018
Liberal states also provide more services to homeless people and are generally more tolerant of people living on the streets or camping. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a large amount of migration from conservative states to liberal ones.
+1
Level 65
Nov 10, 2020
I think this is probably it. I've been to lots of cities around the US, and the one where the homeless seemed the most "at home" was Portland, by far. They seemed to have more resources handy, and the average citizen did not seem to blanch at their presence the way people often do elsewhere.
+18
Level 52
Jul 17, 2018
Good old liberal Florida and Texas.
+4
Level 70
Jul 30, 2018
Florida is a swing state, like Colorado. Texas has a warm climate, so it is easier to be homeless as opposed to somewhere like New York, Colorado or Washington.
+1
Level 55
Aug 13, 2018
I was surprised how high the Democratic vote is in Texas so it could be it's more "liberal" than other states.
+3
Level 67
Aug 13, 2018
The Austin area is pretty liberal, isn't it?
+1
Level 49
Nov 10, 2020
Except Texas has almost 3/4 of the population of California yet barely 1/10 of the homeless. Florida too has half the population yet a little more than 1/10 of the homeless. Both also have a climate where someone won't freeze to death in winter.
+1
Level 65
Nov 11, 2020
Yes, but you're cherry-picking California, which is well-known for having the largest homeless population. The fact that these two states -- like every other state -- have homeless populations much lower than California's doesn't say much.
+11
Level 80
Aug 13, 2018
Highers costs (and standards) of living has little to do with it. Climate matters only a little. All of these states have large urban centers, including Texas, Florida, and Georgia. And as QM points out, someone living in a tent in California, Hawaii, or Massachusetts probably has better access to healthcare than someone living in a dilapidated $500 trailer (and therefore not technically homeless) in Arkansas or Mississippi.
+9
Level 79
Aug 13, 2018
I lived for a few years in Arkansas and I saw no more "dilapidated trailers" there than in any of the other 41 states I've been in. That sounded very disdainful, Kalba. No one has pointed out that half of these are the states with the highest populations. Unless the figures are per capita, then one would expect those numbers to be higher. One would also expect the numbers to be higher in warmer climates. That only leaves WA, OR, and CO, and I have no idea why their numbers are higher.
+3
Level 80
Aug 13, 2018
Really? I drove through Arkansas and was shocked at just how true the stereotypes seemed to be. Kept passing by houses with rusted out trucks trucks sawed in half sitting out on the lawn and other assorted things you might expect to see. But anyway I wasn't saying everyone in Arkansas lives in a dilapidated trailer (any more than I would say that everyone in California is homeless). I was saying, or implying, that it's cheaper to find some (barely liveable) form of shelter in some places, that in those places you are very likely to be at or near the bottom of the list of US states that provide adequate public services or any kind of reasonable healthcare (even though it is also in those states that more people are likely to need or rely upon those services), but that doesn't show up on this quiz because if your domicile is a mansion or a shed in your brother's back yard you still don't count as homeless.
+2
Level 80
Aug 13, 2018
re: population yes I thought that was pretty obvious. I did mention large urban centers. States with high populations tend to have big cities in them, too.
+3
Level 80
Aug 13, 2018
Percent of Housing Units That Are Mobile Homes

Mississippi is at 13.8%. Arkansas is at 12.8%. Hawaii is at 0.2%. I don't think honesty is a form of disrespect.

+2
Level ∞
Oct 26, 2020
Climate matters a lot. There is a very strong correlation between temperature and rate of unsheltered homelessness.
+3
Level 70
Oct 28, 2020
It seems like a dilapidated trailer would be preferable to the way many homeless are living in California.
+1
Level 80
Nov 10, 2020
Neither situation is ideal but I honestly think I would prefer living in a tent city in Los Angeles over some broken down trailer home in Mississippi... or like the ones that I have seen in southern Virginia. ::shrug::
+1
Level 79
Nov 10, 2020
Regarding your mobile home figures, just wanted to point out that not all mobile (now called "manufactured") homes are dilapidated. Many of the modern ones are difficult to tell apart from frame homes, and then there are the modular homes which are sort of a hybrid of both. Also, some of the trailers you see in the Ozarks may be weekend places or deer/fish camps. There is a big difference between rural and urban living. Personally I would prefer a broken down trailer in the country any day over even a mansion in a large city. That's just who I am, and I understand that's not who you are.
+1
Level 79
Nov 20, 2020
I had totally forgotten that I actually lived a few months in a "dilapidated" trailer in Arkansas. When I was first married we were still in college and we spent our first few months living in married student housing which at our university consisted of narrow streets of 10' x 30' old trailers with a sidewalk and narrow strip of grass between them. It was pretty bad, but we were newlyweds and at first we didn't care. The wiring was bad in our trailer and they never seemed to get around to fixing it. One morning I woke up smelling smoke. I traced it to the bathroom where one of our bath towels was smoldering at the end of the metal towel rod it was hanging on. I assumed some type of short had caused it. I told my husband that was it for me in the trailer, and he took a second job and we soon moved off campus to a nice duplex in the country. Young love couldn't top my fear of death from remaining in that fire trap. We drove through 10 yrs later and that same trailer #13 was still there.
+3
Level 50
Aug 13, 2018
The quiz asks for the highest number, not highest percentage. So it's probably population, rather than politics, that give New York and California the top spots.
+1
Level 60
Aug 13, 2018
I'm sure cost of living is partly related, but there are other liberal states with substantial populations and high costs of living (Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland) that aren't on this list. I'm wondering why it is the northwest states seem to have higher rates of homelessness.
+1
Level 50
Nov 11, 2020
Better climate maybe?
+3
Level 43
Aug 13, 2018
Great quiz! Interesting idea as well. However, I think another minute would be better for the quiz.
+1
Level 58
Aug 13, 2018
Suppose Hawaii high on the list due to its climate!
+3
Level 80
Aug 13, 2018
Other states actually fly their homeless people to Hawaii on one-way tickets. The state has the highest number of homeless people as a percentage of the population. The cost of living is also outrageous, and real estate prices are insane (the median single-family home on Oahu goes for $795,000). Or as everyone who's never had to make ends meet there calls it, paradise.
+2
Level 43
Aug 13, 2018
Is Nevada there because people lose even their homes in Las Vegas casinos?
+2
Level 80
Nov 10, 2020
Actually, Nevada (especially Las Vegas) housing got clobbered in the Great Recession. Also, the warm weather doesn't hurt.
+4
Level 81
Aug 13, 2018
All the squatters in windowless abandoned buildings with nowhere else to sleep in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, etc. are now considered housed apparently. Good job, America! 3 degrees of lies: Lies, damnable lies and statistics.
+1
Level 63
Aug 14, 2018
Just because Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio didn't make the list doesn't automatically mean that people living in abandoned buildings in those states aren't considered to be homeless. Again, perception and fact are very different things.
+1
Level 53
Mar 22, 2019
It also doesn't mean some people living in Arkanas, Idaho, or Alaska aren't homeless either.
+1
Level 80
Nov 10, 2020
All of these states have large cities, as do Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio.. and nicer weather than any of those states.
+3
Level 30
Aug 26, 2018
California has the most street poop too. San Francisco is the street poop capital of the US by far.
+4
Level 53
Mar 22, 2019
Yeah it's a horrible place to live, which is why nobody lives there and housing is so incredibly cheap.
+2
Level 70
Nov 27, 2019
It's the middle class that doesn't live there. Only the rich and the poor.
+3
Level ∞
Oct 26, 2020
The reason that prices are so high in San Francisco is easy: the tech industry. It's typical for senior engineers to make $200k-$500k in annual compensation. The San Francisco Bay Area also has More Billionaires than any place on the planet. These people are not affected by high prices or high taxes. Being a member of the middle class in San Francisco is practically impossible nowadays.
+1
Level 80
Nov 10, 2020
Whatever angry news source you get your information from is lying to you and playing to your insecurities and prejudices.
+2
Level 58
Aug 23, 2019
It figures that 3 of the top 5 states are Left Coast.
+1
Level 51
Sep 11, 2020
I remember when I lived in Austin my grandparents visited and we went downtown. which they thought was so cool because they have never been to a big city. (they live in a farmhouse in texas) but on the drive over, we saw a homeless man peeing in a can while flipping us off.
+2
Level 68
Oct 26, 2020
When I lived in San Francisco (this was before the homeless problem there became the crisis it is now), my mother-in-law had come to town for a visit. She called for us to come meet her: "Hi, I'm right down the street on the corner...Oh my God! That man is taking a s**t right on the sidewalk!"
+2
Level 81
Oct 26, 2020
These numbers will likely be significantly higher during/after 2020.
+2
Level 80
Nov 10, 2020
There are exactly 12 homeless people in North Dakota?
+1
Level 80
Nov 10, 2020
Curious to know what happened to the homeless populations in Florida and Georgia. That's a huge drop in both places. Did they move out? Die off? Get under or over counted in one year? Or actually find homes?
+1
Level 59
Nov 10, 2020
https://www.flhousing.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Good-News-for-the-Field-Homelessness-in-Florida-is-on-the-Decline.pdf

For Florida. These are changes over a ten-year period, so actually trends in the right (or wrong) directions are possible, and I wouldn't chalk up the differences to statistical variability (I'm not saying you are).

+2
Level 83
Nov 10, 2020
The change was from 10 years ago, which was at the bottom of the housing bubble. There were lots of risky mortgages in rapid growth suburbia that were foreclosed upon. The four with negative changes were the epitome of this, so you had lots of recently displaced people. Cost of living was still relatively low in them and soon their economies started growing again with jobs markets that recovered especially for the working/middle class. So lots of those homeless people got back on their feet over the ten years.
+2
Level 56
Nov 10, 2020
California dream'n.
+1
Level 22
Nov 10, 2020
Can we not bring politics into stuff? -_-
+3
Level 57
Nov 10, 2020
Funny how the Republican states see a drop in their homelessness but the Dem ones are increasing.
+3
Level 80
Nov 10, 2020
is that you, Mr. President?
+2
Level 65
Nov 10, 2020
In case you missed it, Georgia and Arizona went blue this time around. But otherwise, yeah, let's engage in facile reasoning to confirm our biases. Always a good move.
+1
Level 55
Nov 10, 2020
This quiz is far too US centric...
+2
Level 53
Nov 10, 2020
California is number one. Thank you Gavin Newsome, Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters. It never could've happened without you.
+4
Level 80
Nov 10, 2020
Gavin Newsome is responsible for California being by far the most populous state in the union?
+3
Level 68
Nov 10, 2020
AND for having one of the nicest climates in the country!
+1
Level 80
Nov 11, 2020
sounds like a swell guy
+2
Level 59
Nov 11, 2020
Phil, why don't you see what it's rank was back when it had Republican governors. Looks like you have a lot of folks to thank.
+1
Level 46
Nov 10, 2020
i feel bad