Top Bar Menu

Facts on Homelessness

Homelessness has many causes and many faces. It can affect anyone, even those who have worked hard all of their lives. Following are some little-known facts on homelessness, including the scope of the problem and the success of programs like ours that seek to find permanent solutions.

National Figures

  • According to the 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, 549,928 people in the United States were homeless on a single night last year.
  • The National Alliance to End Homeless 2017 Report defines “unsheltered” as those living outside, in a car, or in a place not meant for human habitation. Last year, 66% of those unsheltered  were males, 23% were females, and 11% were families with children. (Unsheltered Homelessness: Trends, Strategies, and Causes to Address)
  • Homeless youth – under 25 years old – and chronically homeless individuals with a disability were most likely to be at risk of being unsheltered in 2016. 46% of homeless youth were unsheltered, and 68% chronically homeless individuals with a disability were unsheltered.  (Unsheltered Homelessness: Trends, Strategies, and Causes to Address)
  • Nearly one-fifth of all people experiencing homelessness were children under age 18. (AHAR, 2016)
  • Families account for 35% of all people facing homelessness. (AHAR, 2016)
  • Veterans comprise 9% of all people facing homelessness, or 39,471 individuals. (AHAR, 2016)

Homelessness in Massachusetts

  • In 2016, Massachusetts had 19,608 people facing homelessness on a given night. This number is up by 4,481 people (29.6%) from 2007 but down by 7.2% between 2015 and 2016. (AHAR)
  • 13, 174 people in families with children were homeless on a single night in Massachusetts last year. This number up by 92.7% since 2007 but down by 10.7% between 2015 and 2016  (AHAR)
  • 949 veterans were homeless on a given night in Massachusetts in 2016.  (AHAR)
  • Due to the high cost of living, permanent housing can sometimes be out of reach. According to 2017 statistics from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (Out of Reach 2017):
    • The Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in MA is $1, 424.
    • In order to afford rent and utilities and spend only 30% of income for housing, a household needs to earn $56, 967 annually/ $27.39 a hour.
    • The average renter’s wage is $19.70.
    • A person making minimum wage ($11) would have to work 100-hours per week, 52 weeks a year, to afford the two bedroom rental home. For a 1-bedroom rental home, a person making minimum wage would have to work 80 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.

Reasons for Hope

  • Massachusetts ranks among the states with the lowest percentage of homeless people who are unsheltered, at 3.9%(AHAR, 2016)
  • There are families and individuals facing setbacks, such as loss of a job, and need only temporary help getting back on their feet. Families staying at the Emmaus Family House typically stay for just 2-8 months before finding more permanent housing. Those in our emergency shelter for individuals often stay for less than 3 months.
  • Over the past three years, Emmaus has placed nearly 500 homeless families in stable housing and helped hundreds more at-risk families stay in their own homes.

To learn more, download our Homelessness Fact Sheet.