American Homelessness Just Hit a Historic High

homelessness at an all time high in US

By all statistical accounts, including undercounts like PIT, there have never been more homeless people in modern America.

As a nation, the United States of America has seen its share of ups and downs, moral high points and shameful low points, economic rises, and market crashes. Like most countries, there are times we are sitting on top of the world and times we are hiding under a proverbial rock. If you thought right now was a time of comfort and ease, you have been enamored.

Ours is a country filled with feel-good language. Freedom is always ringing. Mountains are capped and covered. Soldiers are valiantly marching. But behind the folklore and the fair façade, homelessness is rampant.

People – as many as 2.5 million children and 7 million residents per year – have no stable place to live. Are we so distracted by our technological advancements, so preoccupied with scrolling through our social media feeds, that we have altogether forgotten our neighbors who are, as we speak, being forced into obscurity and abject poverty?

The price of this will often be their lives.

There Has Never Been a Time in Recent American History When Homelessness Was This High. Ever.

“I don’t think anyone’s ever planning on being homeless,” said Trouble, a self-proclaimed traveler and political activist who shared her homeless story with Invisible People in 2017.

Academics concur that homelessness is the result of multiple system failures happening simultaneously. Nobody chooses to live on the streets, in a vehicle, or doubled up on a friend or family member’s sofa. These things happen as our economic condition rises and falls. The amount of homelessness we witness is an indicator of how we are really fairing as a country or failing as a country in the case of current times.

In January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported a 12% increase in homelessness since 2022, which marks the highest rate on record.

The organization began its Point-In-Time Count (a snapshot of people enduring homelessness on a single night in various cities) in 2007. That means more people are enduring homelessness now than there were at the height of the 2008 financial crisis when the housing market collapsed, millions of people were unemployed, and we officially entered the Great Recession.

Experts claim the current homeless crisis is primarily the result of a short supply of affordable housing. The following other factors have also contributed:

  • Skyrocketing rental rates
  • Loss of pandemic protections, such as the Eviction Moratorium
  • Loss of pandemic aid like the Child Tax Credit and multiple stimulus checks
  • Stagnant wages not keeping up with rent or mortgage rates
  • Inflation increasing the price of necessities like food, transit, healthcare, and utilities

In addition to a substantial, record-breaking rise in overall homelessness, all of the following increases are also of note:

  • A 15.5% increase in family homelessness
  • A 7.4% increase in veteran homelessness
  • An 11% increase in individual homelessness

As you can see, whether you are single or part of a family unit, whether you have served in the military or as a hardworking member of the US labor force, there is a much higher chance this year that homelessness could happen to you. It could always happen to anyone.

Americans Are Tired of Not Living the Dream

As this economic nosedive continues unrelenting, Americans are expressing their disappointment. Three out of four report losing all faith in the American Dream, a goal once centered around things like residing in a stable home.

“When things add up for people, it’s such a tendency to want to give up,” said Lisa, a 51-year-old female enduring homelessness in Venice Beach.

This collective urge to resign, or to, as some netizens call it, “quietly quit,” is taking a toll on society, particularly in spaces where activism usually occurs. Volunteerism is grasping at a historic low, with the number of American volunteers having dropped seven percentage points in a single calendar year. This means that as we face an epidemic of homelessness, soup kitchens and homeless shelters lack the necessary staff to keep up with demand.

This vicious cycle of increased poverty and homelessness combined with social justice burnout and withdrawal continues with no end in sight. Won’t you take action by expressing your dismay?

Let Your Local Legislators Know You’re Disappointed in How They’re Handling the Homeless Crisis

Over the past few years, there has been a spike in orchestrated efforts to criminalize homelessness by drafting anti-homeless legislation. These so-called “quality of life laws” that make it illegal for homeless people to sit, stand, walk, or sleep in the public sphere are slowly becoming the only resolution to homelessness that our political leaders are presenting.

Millions of tax dollars are being spent right now constructing state-sanctioned concentration camps for people experiencing poverty. And when the subject of homelessness is broached in mainstream media, it is always tied to buzzwords like drug addiction and mental health.

Why is there no mention of the housing crisis, of the skyrocketing rents and vehicle price tags, of the stagnant wages and underemployment rates when there’s talk of the homeless community? You should raise these concerns with your local legislators when you let them know your vote is contingent on real solutions, like making housing a human right.

Cynthia Griffith

Cynthia Griffith


Cynthia Griffith is a freelance writer dedicated to social justice and environmental issues.

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