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The 10 Worst Cities for Homelessness in the U.S.

Los Angeles

The rate of homelessness in the United States is alarming, with the most affected parts being the populated cities. Even though the rate was seen to decline between 210 and 2020, the number of homeless people is still high in the U.S. One of the biggest contributors to this problem is the lack of affordable housing. In most cities, rental rates have risen compared to wages. This means that low-income earners spend more of their income to pay rent. That leaves them with very little for basic commodities like healthcare and food. Eventually, they end up losing their homes completely.

Another reason for homelessness in the United States is unemployment and lower wages. People with no steady job resort to sleeping on the streets or in their cars. Apart from that, mental illnesses and substance abuse contribute to the high homelessness rate in the U.S. most people suffering from mental disorders find it hard to find employment and stable housing. For that reason, they are always in and out of homelessness.

10. Springfield, Massachusetts- Homeless Population: 1,695

Situated in Massachusetts, Springfield is a city surrounded by the Mill River, Connecticut River, and the Westfield River. According to U.S. News, Springfield is among the most populated cities in Massachusetts State, with a population of 153,606. Given its close connections with New York and Boston, the city has an important role in the state's economy. However, like any other populous city, Springfield faces a homelessness crisis. Sources indicate that at least 1,695 people are homeless in the city.

The high cost of housing in Massachusetts is accountable for the high homelessness rate in the state. Additionally, residents have very low wages, and most people are locked out in the state with high rent rates. People flee to the streets, public parks, and spaces to camp in their erected tents.

9. Eugene, Oregon- Homeless Population: 3,000

Eugene is a city in Oregon and is located along the Willamette River. The city is well-known for its Alton Baker Park and Fifth Street Market. With an average population of 179 887, Eugene is among the most populated cities in Oregon State. The major driving force of Eugene's economy is the many vehicle manufacturing industries. Eugene is among the cities with a high homelessness rate, with at least 3,000 homeless population.

There are so many factors affecting the high rate of homelessness in Eugene. Part of that is due to the lack of affordable housing and the region's limited shelter capacity. Rent rates in Eugene are quite high, which locks some of the residents into the streets. Besides the high cost of living, Eugene experiences a scarcity of behavioral and mental health resources. All these contribute to the homelessness that is experienced in the city.

8. Honolulu, Hawaii- Homeless Population: 3,951

Honolulu ranks in the 7th position in the list of the cities with the most homeless people in the UNITED States. That means there are so many people in the city with nowhere to live. According to USA Numbers, this homeless population is normally concentrated in particular areas like near the beach or downtown. As it stands, at least 3 951 people in Honolulu are homeless. That makes it hard for these people to access the necessary resources or employment.

There are so many reasons for the state of homelessness in the city, even though the contributing factor is loss of job and mental illnesses. The cost of living in Honolulu is also high, which has also affected the apartment rent rates. This locks most people, especially those who have lost jobs, out. These people camp in public spaces and some in the streets. Some different shelters and programs work to help the homeless population in the city. However, the homelessness issue persists in Honolulu.

7. Chicago, Illinois- Homeless Population: 5,390

Chicago is a city in Illinois State known for its amazing landmarks. These include Grant Park, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Museum Campus, to name a few. Despite all these good things, Chicago faces a homelessness crisis. Statistics show that the homeless population is 5,390. Part of the reason why this is so is that Chicago is a populous city with more than 2,000,000 residents.

People have also attributed the homeless situation in Chicago to the lack of affordable housing in the city. The unemployment rate in Chicago is also very low, as are the employees' wages in the city. In Chicago, there are cases of domestic violence and racial inequality. All these factors have contributed to the number of homeless people in Chicago.

6. Seattle, Washington- Homeless Population: 5, 715

Seattle is a city in Washington State and is famous for its tech company headquarters as well as its rich coffee culture. Most people who live outside Seattle are probably wondering why Seattle is mentioned in our list. Despite knowing Seattle as among the 'best' cities in the U.S., the reality is that this city is grappling with a homelessness crisis among a huge proportion. Seattle has at least 5 715 homeless people camping in the streets and public parks.

The music and tech scene has been booming in Seattle recently. While this has made it among the fastest-growing cities, it has also raised the cost of living in Seattle. Among the things affected by the high cost of living in the apartment rent rates. As with major cities, Seattle battles economic and racial disparities, mental health issues, and addiction problems. According to Ofhsoup Kitchen, these are the contributing factors to the worse housing condition in the city. As such, homelessness cases are on the rise.

5. San Jose, California- Homeless Population: 6, 739

Located in California, San Jose City is famous for its role in American Science and Technology. Apart from that, San Jose hosts Silicon Valley, which is one of the technology centers worldwide. The population in San Jose is slightly below 2 million, which makes it among the most populated cities in California. Despite its fame about its affluence, this city is home to the largest homeless and unsheltered populace. San Jose has at least 6 739 homeless people.

There are so many factors that contribute to the homelessness situation in San Jose. Lack of affordable housing and systemic racism are reasons why homelessness is severe in San Jose. Other people have blamed the punitive approach by the city and the lack of solid plans to address the homelessness menace.

4. San Francisco, California- Homeless Population: 7, 800

San Francisco is among the commercial and cultural centers in the U.S. this is one of the most prestigious cities with a high living standard. San Francisco hosts several multinational companies as well as tech giants. According to World Population News (, despite its enormous economy, San Francisco still surfers through the tragedy of homelessness dating back to the 70s.

Part of this problem is industrialization, where most people lost their jobs. Apart from that, the city has been experiencing a rapid rise in housing costs which also accounts for the high homelessness rate in the city. In the past, many policies have been introduced to deal with the situation unsuccessfully. This makes San Francisco among the cities with the worst homelessness cases for decades. It is believed that in the homeless population, 5000 people are unsheltered.

3. San Diego, California- Homeless Population: 8,427

San Diego is one of the main cities in California, located on the Pacific Ocean Coast and adjacent to the Mexican border. The city is known for its idyllic climate and the amazing family attractions, including the popular San Diego zoo. However, as with many cities within the Golden State, San Diego also battles with the worst homelessness crisis for decades. Sources reveal that San Diego has a homeless population of 8,427.

There are so many factors that have thrown people away from their homes into the streets. According to Low Income Relief, the high cost of living and stagnant wages are to blame for this crisis. Other contributing factors include economic inequality and mental health issues. San Diego also has very punitive laws against the homeless community. For instance, it is illegal to camp on the beaches and lives in your car or public spaces in San Diego. According to the law, doing this attracts a citation ticket that arrives with a penalty of not less than $100.

2. New York City, New York- Homeless Population: 52, 137

New York City has a population of 8.8 million, making it the most populous city in the United States. This city is among the most important cities in the world as it is the center of multinational corporations. Known for its New York Stock Exchange, the city hosts some of the largest corporate organizations in the world. Even with all the goodies, New York City suffers from a homelessness crisis. This can be understood from the sense that this is a very populous city.

Other than having a high population, NYC has recently had some of the highest housing prices. Rent charges for a 1-bedroom apartment range at $3,000, above the national average. According to Business Insider, the homeless population in the city is believed to be more than 52,137. Apart from the high cost of living, the city has put up measures prohibiting the erection of tents or camping in public spaces. With all these regulations, it is no wonder the city experiences a high homeless population.

1. Los Angeles, California- Homeless Population: 69,144

Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the United States. It also occupies the second spot regarding the number of homeless people roaming the streets. In the past, homelessness in Los Angeles was rampant in the Downtown Skid Row region and the beach communities of Venice and Santa Monica. However, in recent years, homelessness has spiked across the whole city. It is estimated that Los Angeles has up to 69,144 homeless people.

Like New York City, Los Angeles suffers from rising housing costs. For that reason, most L.A. residents find themselves living in tents erected on the city's sidewalks. From Skid Row, the encampments have been popping up everywhere in the city. However, Los Angeles has recently streamlined the rules against its homeless people camping in public spaces. Surprisingly, these measures have only been seen to increase the population of homeless shelters and not do much to curb the situation.

What are the solutions to homelessness?

The sad fact is that no magic formula can curb homelessness overnight. To succeed in the battle against homelessness, a collaborative effort from society and the government is needed. The government should lay out proper policies to address this situation, including the fight against racism. Generally, the buck stops at the cost of living, especially the housing cost, to ensure that the rates are friendly to the residents.

As an individual, there is so much that you can do to salvage the situation. By simply raising awareness, you will have partially solved the problems in ways you couldn't have imagined. Apart from that, you can volunteer or donate to homeless shelters, among other organizations that offer help to the homeless. However simple an act is, the impact will be felt. As they say, ripples spread out from a single pebble dropped in water. This is the same impact that individual actions could bring in the war against homelessness.


Most cities in the U.S. are grappling with homelessness. With the high cost of living in most parts of the world, not everyone will afford the monthly apartment rent. The affected areas in the United States are cities with more than 1 million population. The standard of living in such places is high, while the unemployment rate is low. Employed people also receive low wages, which makes everything complicated.

A good understanding of the homelessness challenge would help to address the problem for future generations. Through this article, we believe that you have learnt more about the state of homelessness in the United States. We have listed some of the cities with the highest rates of homelessness, and might need to be done to curb the situation.

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Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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