photo of a homeless man sleeping near a cardboard sign
Photo by Timur Weber on

Here’s How Homelessness in New York Compares to the Rest of the Country


Homelessness is on the rise in the United States. According to a study published by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the number of Americans experiencing homelessness has grown each year since 2015. As of January 2020, there were an estimated 580,466 Americans experiencing homelessness.

Urban camping outside Costa Coffee, on The High Street, Barnstaple
Urban camping outside Costa Coffee, on The High Street, Barnstaple by Roger A Smith is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Though the exact effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on America’s homelessness problem have yet to be determined, some early indications suggest little reason for optimism.

For reasons at least partly related to the pandemic, a portion of Americans – as high as 35% in some states – say they have missed their rent or mortgage payments or have low confidence that they can pay next month’s, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. Additionally, in some parts of the country, the pandemic interrupted access to temporary housing locations, and social distancing rules meant fewer beds in shelter facilities

Nationwide, men are far more likely to experience homelessness than women, and rates of homelessness tend to be higher among historically marginalized racial groups, including Native Americans and Black Americans. Homelessness rates also vary considerably by state.

In New York, an estimated 91,271 people are experiencing homelessness – or about 46.9 for every 10,000 people, the highest homeless rate among states.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, many areas with a high cost of living, especially high housing costs, also have higher rates of homelessness. Similarly, areas with lower costs of living often have lower rates of homelessness. This pattern holds in New York. Just as the homelessness rate in the state is higher than average, so too is the cost of living. The overall cost of living in New York, which includes housing costs, is about 9.5% higher than the national average.

RankStateHomelessness rate (per 10,000)Homeless populationPoverty rate (%)Cost of livng (%)
1New York46.991,27113.09.5 higher than avg.
2Hawaii45.66,4589.311.3 higher than avg.
3California40.9161,54811.89.9 higher than avg.
4Oregon34.714,65511.43.5 higher than avg.
5Washington30.122,9239.87.1 higher than avg.
6Alaska26.61,94910.13.4 higher than avg.
7Massachusetts26.117,9759.46.7 higher than avg.
8Nevada22.46,90012.51.1 lower than avg.
9Vermont17.81,11010.21 lower than avg.
10Colorado17.19,8469.32 higher than avg.
11New Mexico15.93,33318.26.8 lower than avg.
12Maine15.62,09710.93.5 lower than avg.
13Arizona15.110,97913.51.6 lower than avg.
14Montana14.51,54512.65.9 lower than avg.
15Minnesota14.17,9409.01.3 lower than avg.
16Idaho132,31511.27.1 lower than avg.
17Florida12.827,48712.70.1 lower than avg.
18Nebraska12.42,4049.96.6 lower than avg.
19New Hampshire12.31,6757.33.4 higher than avg.
20Delaware121,16511.31.1 lower than avg.
21South Dakota121,05811.97.7 lower than avg.
22New Jersey10.99,6629.210.9 higher than avg.
23Tennessee10.67,25613.98.1 lower than avg.
24Missouri10.66,52712.97 lower than avg.
25Wyoming10.661210.16.6 lower than avg.
26Maryland10.56,3609.04.8 higher than avg.
27Pennsylvania10.413,37512.02.1 lower than avg.
28Rhode Island10.41,10410.81.6 higher than avg.
29Oklahoma9.93,93215.29.6 lower than avg.
30Utah9.83,1318.92.6 lower than avg.
31Georgia9.610,23413.35.2 lower than avg.
32Texas9.427,22913.60.9 lower than avg.
33Ohio9.110,65513.16.8 lower than avg.
34Kentucky94,01116.310 lower than avg.
35North Carolina8.89,28013.67.8 lower than avg.
36Michigan8.68,63813.04.9 lower than avg.
37Indiana8.45,62511.96.6 lower than avg.
38Iowa8.42,64711.28.1 lower than avg.
39Kansas8.42,44911.46.9 lower than avg.
40South Carolina8.34,28713.87.9 lower than avg.
41Illinois8.210,43111.50.2 lower than avg.
42Connecticut8.12,90510.02.9 higher than avg.
43Wisconsin7.84,51510.45.5 lower than avg.
44Arkansas7.82,36616.211.6 lower than avg.
45West Virginia7.51,34116.011.7 lower than avg.
46North Dakota7.154110.67.8 lower than avg.
47Virginia75,9579.90.3 higher than avg.
48Alabama6.83,35115.510.9 lower than avg.
49Louisiana6.83,17319.08.2 lower than avg.
50Mississippi3.71,10719.612.4 lower than avg.

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