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America's Homeless II

Populations and Services

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Document date: January 01, 2000
Released online: January 01, 2000

The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders.


Even in a booming economy, at least 2.3 million adults and children, or nearly 1 percent of the U.S. population, are likely to experience a spell of homelessness at least once during a year. This likelihood grows to 6.3 percent if one considers only people living in poverty, according to the newest national analysis of homelessness by Urban Institute researchers Martha Burt and Laudan Aron. At the same time, there is a bigger and more diverse network of homeless services than in 1987, when the Urban Institute released earlier national estimates of the homeless population.

Burt and Aron developed the new estimates from the 1996 National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (NSHAPC). The NSHAPC covers suburban, rural, and urban areas, and was conducted in 1996 by the U.S. Census Bureau. In December 1999, the Federal Interagency Council on the Homeless released descriptive data from the survey, but did not include population estimates. The new independent analysis by Burt and Aron provides estimates of the size of the nation's homeless population in 1996 and enables a comparison with 1987 estimates of homelessness. No local population estimates are available.

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Topics/Tags: | Cities and Neighborhoods | Housing | Poverty, Assets and Safety Net


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