D.C.-Area Has Fifth Largest Homeless Population

An estimated 13,205 homeless people live in the D.C.-metro area, making it the fifth largest homeless population in the country among large metro areas, according to a new report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness. The overall population in the D.C.-area is quite large — nearly 5.5 million people — so naturally there would be more homeless people here than in a smaller city. The Washington region ranks 21st when examining the rate of homelessness, a measure that controls for high overall populations. There are 24 homeless individuals for every 10,000 people living in the D.C.-area.

High homelessness rates in cities can be explained by a few factors, writes Atlantic Cities’ Richard Florida, including warm winters, unemployment and high housing costs. Crime is actually lower in areas with higher homelessness rates, he adds, but homelessness is more prevalent in cities with a greater share of Hispanics in the population.


An estimated 600,000 Americans are currently homeless, including nearly 70,000 veterans, according to the recently released The State of Homelessness in America from the National Alliance to End Homelessness. That’s a small drop-off from 2009, but U.S. rates are alarmingly high: 21 homeless per 10,000 people across the country.

The spread of homelessness is not uniform. Some cities have been hit much harder than others.

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