FAQs

Here are a few of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about homelessness and the Alliance’s role in helping to end homelessness in America.

Q: How many people are homeless?

A: On a given night in 2016, 549,928 people experienced homelessness in the U.S. During that same year, approximately 1.5 million people entered an emergency shelter, transitional housing, or other homeless assistance program.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Veterans Affairs consider a person to be homeless if they are sleeping outside, in a place not meant for human habitation such as a car or abandoned building, or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. Other federal agencies have different definitions for homelessness.

Q: Who experiences homelessness?

A: On a single night in 2016, an estimated:

  • 194,716 people in families, including children, experienced homelessness.
  • 358,422 single adults experienced homelessness.
  • 77,486 people with disabling conditions experienced chronic homelessness.
  • Nearly 40,000 veterans experienced homelessness.

Learn more about who experiences homelessness.

Q: Why do people become homeless?

A: Reasons vary, but the main reason people become homeless is because they cannot find housing they can afford. Other factors can include a chronic health condition, domestic violence and systemic inequality. Read more about the causes of homelessness.

Q: Is there a solution to homelessness?

A: Yes. A home. To end homelessness, the nation will need an adequate supply of housing that is affordable to lower income households—it is now 11.5 million units short. Until that problem is solved, the homeless system will help people quickly return to housing, connect to employment, and get needed services and support. Read more about specific solutions to homelessness.

Q: How is the Alliance helping?

A: The Alliance’s sole focus is ending and preventing homelessness through:

  • Research, Data and Education: The Alliance uses research and data to find solutions to homelessness.  It informs policymakers, practitioners, and advocates about those solutions.
  • Policy: The Alliance works with policymakers to improve homelessness policy and provide resources.
  • Capacity: The Alliance’s works directly with communities to implement solutions to homelessness.

Q: Does the Alliance provide services to people experiencing homelessness?

A: No. The Alliance is not a direct service provider. To find help in your community, you might try the following: