How Many Single Adults Experience Homelessness?
On a single night in January 2020:
- 408,891 single adults were homeless.
- 51 percent or 209,413 were unsheltered, marking the first time there are more individuals living unsheltered than in shelter.
- 49 percent or 199,478 were sheltered—that is, had temporary beds to sleep in.
- 70 percent were men; 29 percent were women, and 1 percent identified as transgender or gender non-conforming.
Why Do Single Adults Experience Homelessness?
Homelessness among single adults, like homelessness among other populations, is a result of the lack of affordable, available housing. Because of the cost of housing and inadequate incomes, even a temporary financial or life crisis — such as losing a job, the end of a relationship, death of a partner, or health emergency — can result in a loss of housing and homelessness. However, the experience of homelessness for this population is most often brief and non-recurring. Despite common stereotypes, most homeless single adults do not suffer from chronic mental illness, substance abuse, or other disabling conditions. Most are homeless for a relatively short time before reconnecting to housing.
Ending Homelessness for Single Adults
Affordable housing would end homelessness for the vast majority of single adults. Absent an end to the affordable housing crisis in the U.S., a community-wide coordinated approach to helping single adults exit homelessness quickly is needed. This approach should include access to emergency shelter and crisis response services with low barriers (minimal requirements to access) and, when needed, access to proven permanent housing solutions such as rapid re-housing or permanent supportive housing. Ending homelessness for single adults also requires connections to employment and income, access to health care, and re-entry and recovery supports.
Updated April 2021.