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The State of Homelessness in America

September 16, 2019
By Council of Economic Advisers

Over half a million people go homeless on a single night in the United States.

Approximately 65 percent are found in homeless shelters, and the other 35 percent—just under 200,000—are found unsheltered on our streets (in places not intended for human habitation, such as sidewalks, parks, cars, or abandoned buildings). Homelessness almost always involves people facing desperate situations and extreme hardship. They must make choices among very limited options, often in the context of extreme duress, substance abuse disorders, untreated mental illness, or unintended consequences from well-intentioned policies. Improved policies that address the underlying causes of the problem and more effectively serve some of the most vulnerable members of society are needed.

This report (i) describes how homelessness varies across States and communities in the United States; (ii) analyzes the major factors that drive this variation; (iii) discusses the shortcomings of previous Federal policies to reduce homeless populations; and (iv) describes how the Trump Administration is improving Federal efforts to reduce homelessness.

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