Homeless Population By State In The US For 2023

These states have the most homeless per capita in all of the USA.

Homelessness by state in the United States research summary. We used Saturday Night Science to compare the Point in Time Estimate from HUD for 2023 of the homeless population in each state released in December 2023. We looked at the homeless population per capita and total homelessness for each state, excluding DC.

Here are the parts of the country with the highest levels of unhoused persons.

  • The state with the largest homeless population per capita in the United States is New York with 0.0052 per capita.
  • The state with the lowest homeless population per capita in the United States is Mississippi with 0.0003 per capita.
  • The state with the largest homeless population in the United States is New York with 103,864 people.
  • The state with the smallest homeless population in the United States is North Dakota with 823 people.
  • The total homeless population in the United States is 443,367.

Most homeless States In The US Map

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Table

States With The Largest Homeless Population Per Capita In The US

  1. New York
  2. Vermont
  3. Alaska
  4. Maine
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Washington
  7. Hawaii
  8. New Hampshire
  9. California
  10. Oregon

States With The Smallest Homeless Population Per Capita In The US

  1. Mississippi
  2. Alabama
  3. Louisiana
  4. Virginia
  5. South Carolina
  6. Arkansas
  7. New Jersey
  8. Connecticut
  9. Texas
  10. North Carolina

Homelessness In the United States Background

Every day in the US, on average, 55 people become homeless.

For some, it’s a choice. For many, it is not.

While we have seen a decrease for several years, the homeless rate in the United States is going up again, and in many states, it’s exploding. If the homeless rate continues at the rate we’ve seen over the last few years, by the year 443,367, the whole US population will be living on the streets.

Okay, that’s not going to happen. Although the pandemic, the rising cost of living, and a spike in drug use have many worried we’ll see a spike in homeless folks in the coming years.

Now, the homeless issue is a very controversial one. The root of the problem is very complex, and politicians have been baffled as to how to solve it. We’ll talk about that. And, you’ll find Americans view homelessness from two entirely different camps. Some of us feel bad for the homeless and blame our government. Some of us blame the homeless for their own decisions. We’ll talk about that, too.

However you feel about homelessness, it’s a very complex problem and one that shouldn’t exist in the richest country in the world. There isn’t one answer because there isn’t just one problem.

Homeless Population Per Capita By State In The United States Map

For more reading, check out:

The 10 Most Homeless States In America

1. New York

New-York|Ny, NY

Source: Wikipedia User | CC BY 3.0

Population: 19,994,379
Homeless Population: 103,864
Homeless Per Capita: 0.0052
More On New York: Biggest Cities | Average Rent

But you know who ISN’T investing in housing its residents? New York isn’t.

At least, New York CITY isn’t. They actually get caught schlepping their homeless across the river in New Jersey. New Jersey people apparently don’t like that very much. The state of New York pays for a year of rent in another state, as long as you don’t come back. Apparently, it is cheaper to move them into New Jersey than it is to keep them within their own city limits.

It’s nothing unique to New York City though. Lots of cities do this.

Anyways, there’s somewhere around 103,864 homeless in the state of New York, and around 80,000 in New York City alone, even though the mayor Bill DeBlasio says it’s far less than that.

All in all, about 1 in 5 homeless people in the country are either in Los Angeles or New York City alone.

New York will try and house folks who need help and the state’s homeless budget is about $4 billion annually, and most of that is spent in New York City alone. This is interesting: New York City homeless Shelters apparently charge whatever the heck they want. That’s ruffling some feathers, since you know, the budget has limits.

New York City proper is a very expensive place to live, and there’s definitely a lack of affordable housing here.

2. Vermont

Vermont|Vt, VT

Source: Wikipedia User | CC BY-SA 3.0

Population: 643,816
Homeless Population: 2,857
Homeless Per Capita: 0.0044
More On Vermont: Biggest Cities | Average Rent

Vermont is a unique situation. The homeless rate here had been declining, but is on the rise once again. There are far fewer homeless here than in other states we’ll talk about, but it’s a small state, too. It’s estimated that there are 0.0044 homeless people for every 10,000 residents.

It’s much colder here than it is out west, but, still, 10% of the homeless in Vermont live on the streets every night. That’s far LOWER than out west, where it’s estimated 1 in 3 homeless people live outdoors.

Vermont ranks highly in the nation for welfare spending per capita, and many residents here complain about high taxes and a high cost of living. However, all that tax money isn’t enough to keep up with trying to assist the growing homeless in Vermont. The state spends $140,000 a night putting residents up in hotel rooms, and wind up spending more in fielding calls from hotel owners regarding vandalism and drug use.

Incidentally, Vermont ranks towards the top in terms of drug use and overdose rates.

3. Alaska

Alaska|Ak, AK

Source: Wikipedia User | CC BY 2.0

Population: 734,821
Homeless Population: 2,308
Homeless Per Capita: 0.0031
More On Alaska: Biggest Cities | Average Rent

Alaska, believe it or not, ranks third in terms of homeless rate per capita. It’s obviously very cold here, but 18% of Alaskans who are homeless live unsheltered. Some people here will commit petty crimes to get thrown in jail intentionally so they are warm. They they get out and do it all over again.

The cost of living here is really high – this state ranks as the 9th most expensive when you factor in the cost for a roof over your head.

But more than the cost of living is the culture here in Alaska. Anchorage has what local leaders call a crisis, as people wander around on streets, couch surf or battle bed bugs or crime at local fleabag motels. There’s a bid drug and alcohol problem in Alaska, and sheer number of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault rates are all super high in Alaska, which means people are in transition a lot more often here.

Alaska has doubled its homeless assistance program to $8 million a year, or $8,000 per homeless person, per year. As a nation, we spend about $3 billion annually on homeless assistance at the federal. To put that into perspective, we gave Afghanistan nearly $5 billion last year. And this is just the tip of our foreign spending iceberg. As you can imagine, we give away tons of money to other countries while our own citizens live like this.

4. Maine

Maine|Me, ME

Source: Wikipedia User | CC BY-SA 3.0

Population: 1,366,949
Homeless Population: 4,238
Homeless Per Capita: 0.0031
More On Maine: Biggest Cities | Average Rent

5. Massachusetts

Massachusetts|Ma, MA

Source: Public domain

Population: 6,984,205
Homeless Population: 17,971
Homeless Per Capita: 0.0026
More On Massachusetts: Biggest Cities | Average Rent

There’s about 17,971 people in Massachusetts who are homeless on any given night these days. And, it’s estimated the number of families who are homeless here has increased at the highest rate of any other state. Overall, as a state, it’s up by 20% over the last decade. This is really the only real right to shelter state in the country, though New York has similar laws. Basically, it means if you don’t have anywhere to live, the state will put you or in a hotel room for up to a year – and help you transition to permanent housing, though the wait for that is like 10 years.

Of course, hopefully within 10 years, folks are able to get back on their feet, but some will never do so. It’s SUPER complicated. Many homeless people who recently lost their jobs and had other setbacks will sleep in motels or in their cars or other vehicles, often moving around until they can get back on their feet again.

But those who are openly living on the streets like this are not that group, for the most part.

Some Americans insist the people you see on the streets choose to live like this because in the shelters, they have to follow rules. There’s places that will take them in, for free, and help them get back on their feet. Some say no one with a healthy state of mind would choose to live like this. For many of these street dwellers, it’s addiction and mental illness.

6. Washington

Washington|Wa, WA

Source: Wikipedia User | GFDL

Population: 7,688,549
Homeless Population: 17,955
Homeless Per Capita: 0.0023
More On Washington: Biggest Cities | Average Rent

Okay so Seattle is just a mess. As you’ve heard, the homeless problem here is beyond a crisis and getting worse by the week. What was once a beautiful city has been taken over by drug addicts, the mentally unstable and the lifestyle street people. But there’s a lot of other people in this state who are NOT just those you see in Seattle. There’s about 17,955 homeless people in Washington state at the time of this writing, but again, no one knows the true number.

The state has talked about taxing businesses up to $120 million a year to help fund homeless relief programs and help pay for affordable housing. That scared a LOT of people, and if you haven’t heard, lots of companies AND residents have been leaving Seattle.

How much of the problem in places like Seattle is because of the cost of living and how much is the lifestyle? Sure, getting a place in Seattle is out of reach for a lot of people, but they can relocate, right? If you get priced out of your house, there’s plenty of places you can move where you can afford, and agencies will help you relocate. And I over simplifying this? Like if you can’t afford to live in Seattle, why stay and live in your car? I’m not trying to be insensitive, I just don’t understand.

The cost of living in places like Seattle is a very complicated issue. Sometimes, it’s greedy landlords that add fire to the problem of affordable housing. We’ll talk about that when we get to New York. But regulations make it hard for developers to build affordable housing, or to justify their construction. This guy says he’s a landlord and a developer and the fees that the government charges makes it hard to justify building affordable units on land he owns, even though he would LOVE to do it.

7. Hawaii

Hawaii|Hi, HI

Source: Public domain

Population: 1,450,589
Homeless Population: 3,279
Homeless Per Capita: 0.0023
More On Hawaii: Biggest Cities | Average Rent

Hawaii has close to the highest cost of living of all US states, so the homeless problem there is definitely related to a lack of affordable housing. And it can be a lot more difficult to move because you’re stuck on an island.

The good news – if there is any good news in this depressing video, is that homelessness in Hawaii is actually going down. This state is no longer number one per capita for homeless.

But as it stands, there’s still about 3,279 people on these islands, which is a lot, considering the small population here.

What is Hawaii doing right? Spending money to save money. A program called Housing First provides free housing for homeless people, and costs about $25,000 a year per person. However, the state saves money on healthcare and locking people up when they give them a home. So housing Hawaiians is an investment.

But the budget only goes so far. And, the state admits the biggest problem is still funding for drug rehab and mental illness treatment.

8. New Hampshire

New-Hampshire|Nh, NH

Source: Wikipedia User | CC BY-SA 3.0

Population: 1,379,610
Homeless Population: 2,601
Homeless Per Capita: 0.0019
More On New Hampshire: Biggest Cities | Average Rent

9. California

California|Ca, CA

Source: Wikipedia User | CC BY-SA 3.0

Population: 39,356,104
Homeless Population: 71,131
Homeless Per Capita: 0.0018
More On California: Biggest Cities | Average Rent

You might have expected California would have the most homeless people, and you’d be right, but per capita, it’s only third. No one knows how many homeless there are in this state. This was filmed in Los Angeles this past October, where it’s estimated there are 40,000 homeless people in this city alone. It’s probably way higher than that. What was once just skid row has blossomed into skid city.

There’s a lot of movie stars in LA. I haven’t heard of them helping the problem. Many say LA manufactures its own homeless problem due to a lack of affordable places to live, and I’m sure that’s correct. However, the addicted and the mentally unstable I am showing here do not seem to be victims of a housing shortage.

The state as a whole has seen a 16% increase in homeless rates over the last decade. They think there’s 71,131 homeless people here, but it’s likely much higher than that.

San Francisco’s also terrible. It’s the city without pity. You walk around San Francisco and step over people sleeping on the sidewalks all the time. They’ve taken over much of downtown now and the city panders to them – putting them up in rooms and handing out drugs, cigarettes and booze to keep them under control emotionally. They seem to have more rights than the average working person. The homeless were given a higher priority for covid vaccines than most California residents were. Can you believe that?

When it rains, they sleep on the midnight special buses all night. But when it rains that means all the poop and needles go down the drain so that’s good.

No wonder California has the most people moving out when you see how its twin cities look these days.

10. Oregon

Oregon|Or, OR

Source: Public domain

Population: 4,229,374
Homeless Population: 7,591
Homeless Per Capita: 0.0018
More On Oregon: Biggest Cities | Average Rent

While the national homeless rate has gone down a bit over the last ten year, Oregon’s has risen by 14% and seems to be going up all the time. Portland and Eugene have the most homeless here, and both rank towards the top nationally.

Lots of people complain that the state of Oregon caters to the homeless, which is why more and more of them are showing up.

How We Determined The Most Homeless States Per Capita

To create our list of the homeless population by state in America, we used Saturday Night Science to compare the Point in Time Estimate from HUD. For each state excluding DC, we looked at the homeless population per capita.

We then ranked each state from one to 50, with the lowest number having the largest homeless population.

Pretty straightforward.

Wrapping Up A Take On The Most Homeless States

Now we talked about greedy landlords earlier, and how complex the affordable housing problem is. Rent control is supposed to provide affordable housing, but only for people who are ACTUALLY IN the building to begin with. Someone moves out and you can charge whatever you want. So landlords in New York City are incentivized to have you move out, and then leave units vacant until someone comes along and can pay a lot of money. So there’s a housing shortage.

Another problem with rent control in some cities like San Francisco is building owners will turn their apartment buildings into condos or retail or just knock them down because rent control made running the building unprofitable.

And gentrification has definitely made living in large urban areas less feasible for poor folks. But again, the question arises – why don’t people who can’t afford to live here just leave? Well, the New York Times posed that question too – and noted that often people DO leave. But the thing that keeps people around, in big cities they cannot and will not ever be able to afford – are social connections and support from friends and family.

So the problem of homelessness is very complicated. Part of the problem is politics – setting aside money or creating laws to help folks with housing, without upsetting the people who work and pay the taxes and the businesses in the area. Addressing addiction and mental illness is another thorn we have yet to solve. But, we have to admit, there is a large percentage of the homeless in this country that does not want help nor do they want a roof over their heads.

Anyways, that’s our look at the states with the most homeless people per capita. It’s a big mess. Some states have unique approaches, and others seem to be making the problem worse by encouraging it or at least not making it hard for people to live on their streets.

Do you have an idea on how we can fix this mess? We can’t just build a free house for anyone who wants one. Cause then no one would work.


For more reading, check out:

Homeless Population Per Capita By State In The US

Rank State Population Homeless Population Homeless Population Per Capita
1 New York 19,994,379 103,864 0.0052
2 Vermont 643,816 2,857 0.0044
3 Alaska 734,821 2,308 0.0031
4 Maine 1,366,949 4,238 0.0031
5 Massachusetts 6,984,205 17,971 0.0026
6 Washington 7,688,549 17,955 0.0023
7 Hawaii 1,450,589 3,279 0.0023
8 New Hampshire 1,379,610 2,601 0.0019
9 California 39,356,104 71,131 0.0018
10 Oregon 4,229,374 7,591 0.0018
11 New Mexico 2,112,463 3,475 0.0016
12 Montana 1,091,840 1,787 0.0016
13 Colorado 5,770,790 9,192 0.0016
14 Wyoming 577,929 871 0.0015
15 Nebraska 1,958,939 2,817 0.0014
16 Nevada 3,104,817 4,395 0.0014
17 South Dakota 890,342 1,221 0.0014
18 Minnesota 5,695,292 7,569 0.0013
19 Delaware 993,635 1,317 0.0013
20 North Dakota 776,874 823 0.0011
21 Arizona 7,172,282 7,569 0.0011
22 Idaho 1,854,109 1,859 0.001
23 Rhode Island 1,094,250 1,092 0.001
24 Missouri 6,154,422 6,096 0.001
25 Pennsylvania 12,989,208 12,691 0.001
26 Maryland 6,161,707 5,971 0.001
27 Illinois 12,757,634 11,953 0.0009
28 Indiana 6,784,403 6,341 0.0009
29 Utah 3,283,809 2,905 0.0009
30 Michigan 10,057,921 8,833 0.0009
31 Florida 21,634,529 18,815 0.0009
32 Oklahoma 3,970,497 3,404 0.0009
33 Iowa 3,188,836 2,630 0.0008
34 Ohio 11,774,683 9,516 0.0008
35 Kentucky 4,502,935 3,639 0.0008
36 Georgia 10,722,325 8,277 0.0008
37 Kansas 2,935,922 2,260 0.0008
38 West Virginia 1,792,967 1,353 0.0008
39 Wisconsin 5,882,128 4,384 0.0007
40 Tennessee 6,923,772 5,129 0.0007
41 North Carolina 10,470,214 7,470 0.0007
42 Texas 29,243,342 20,267 0.0007
43 Connecticut 3,611,317 2,431 0.0007
44 New Jersey 9,249,063 5,876 0.0006
45 Arkansas 3,018,669 1,855 0.0006
46 South Carolina 5,142,750 3,119 0.0006
47 Virginia 8,624,511 4,952 0.0006
48 Louisiana 4,640,546 2,348 0.0005
49 Alabama 5,028,092 2,244 0.0004
50 Mississippi 2,958,846 826 0.0003
About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 900,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.