Individual Homelessness: What are the Trends?

In less than two weeks, the Alliance will be convening nearly one thousand experts from across the country for a conference focused on ending homelessness among individual homeless adults. The need is clear. Despite successes with some subpopulations (like the 49% decrease in veteran homelessness since 2010 and the 25% decrease in homeless families since 2012), individual adults continue to be the largest segment of the homeless population. And some troubling trends have been emerging from HUD’s Point-in-Time data.

There is a history of modest progress on individual homelessness. There was a six-year period of declines between 2011 through 2016. However, that trend is slowly reversing. Individual homelessness has increased for the second year in a row: up 3% from 2016 to 2017, and then another 2% from 2017 to 2018.


Some states are particularly affected. Colorado’s individual homeless population grew by 63% since 2013. New York’s population grew 60% since it’s lowest point in 2009. The state of Washington also saw double digit increases of 55% since their lowest count in 2013.

Nationwide, nearly half of homeless individuals are unsheltered, and this is yet another cause for concern. In fact, the statewide trends for unsheltered homelessness can be startling:

  • Washington state’s unsheltered homelessness increased 116% since it’s lowest point in 2013.
  • Colorado saw an increase of 115% since 2014.
  • Utah’s unsheltered homeless population rose 121% since 2014.
  • California saw a 30% increase in the same population, however, the state’s total unsheltered population makes up nearly half of the nation’s total.


Despite the setbacks, it’s important to recognize where we see progress. 

For instance, Florida has seen a 24% drop in individual homelessness since its peak in 2011. Georgia’s number dropped 57% in the same period.  Florida has also decreased the number of individuals experiencing sheltered homelessness, which has fallen by 55% since 2012. Similarly, the state of Vermont has decreased its number by 50% just since 2016.


There are significant obstacles to addressing homelessness among individual adults. In forthcoming blog posts, the Alliance will continue to explore this challenge. We expect to be informed, challenged, and motivated by what we hear at the Solutions for Individual Homeless Adults conference, and we look forward to sharing those insights on this blog. In the meantime, to learn more about how your state is doing at addressing individual homelessness, please explore the chart below to view the Point-in-Time Count trends.