Homelessness in America

In the United States, the Target Homelessness Assistance Program distributed an estimated $27.5 billion dollars in grant funding between 2010 and 2015. These collaborative efforts throughout communities have reduced the overall homeless rate by 10%, and the unsheltered homeless by 25%.

With an estimated 600,000 Americans experiencing homelessness at some point throughout a given year, the $4.5 billion annual budget breaks down to about $75 per person.

According to Daniel Beekman of the Seattle Times, Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle has followed LA County and Portland, Oregon in declaring a state of emergency for the ever growing homeless population there on the West Coast.

Last winter’s One-Night-Count found over 10,000 people in King County homeless shelters, transitional housing, and unsheltered on the streets. As of September, according the county Medical Examiner’s Office, there were 66 homeless deaths this year. In addition, more than 19,000 households applied for section 8 housing assistance this year.

Building HOMES: A Policymaker’s Toolbox for Ending Homelessness seeks to provide an understanding of the needs and opportunities to end homelessness in Sonoma County by 2025.

The 2015 Homeless Count (Applied Survey Research) identified 3,107 people who were homeless on a single night. An estimated 5,574 people – more than 1% of the County’s population - experience homelessness annually. This is three times the national rate of homelessness.

The homeless population is comprised of distinct subpopulations, which require different housing solutions. The demographic profile of Sonoma County’s homeless population is as follows:

  • 87% of homeless people are single adults over age 18;
  • 22% of homeless people are unaccompanied youth under age of 24;
  • 127 families with children (367 people) comprise 12% of homeless people.


  • Veterans:  7%
  • Chronically Homeless Individuals:  23%
  • Adults with Serious Mental Illness:  57%
  • Adults with Substance Abuse Disorder:  31%
  • Victims of Domestic Violence:  36%
  • Adults living with HIV:  2%

In the annual cost analysis report published in the Toolbox guide listed above for Sonoma County, the estimated annual public cost of one unsheltered homeless person is $8,300. This estimate considers costs incurred by emergency room visits, inpatient stays, justice system expenses, and other social services.

The estimated cost to build new multi-housing structures to house single, chronically homeless adults in tiny efficiency apartments is $160,000 per unit. This comes out to about $4.8 million to house 30 single people and does not address the underlying causes of chronic homelessness.

Looking at the population and employment statistics, including the domestic and international migration trends in certain areas, of the total number of Unemployed reported January 2010, 16,147,000 working Americans were discarded like waste paper.

Before the crash of December 2007, many workers who had limited access to higher education were employed in higher paying job classes. After the crash, it appears that many workers were replaced with college graduates through domestic and international migration.

There are literally millions of people who were once adequately employed, who are now either homeless or working in low paying, dead end jobs. These are highly intelligent, skilled and experienced individuals who no longer enjoy the idea that they are useful and needed in their communities. Many have not made the transition into the low income and poverty level lifestyles of under and unemployment in the US.

When self-esteem is crushed, many turn to substance abuse, and many who are vulnerable to anxiety and depression develop serious health conditions. This subculture of under or unemployed working class Americans are growing in number and joining the chronically homeless subculture.

As you can see in the dataset above, 87% of the homeless count survey taken in Sonoma County are single adults. Most of those surveyed have lost jobs, homes, family support, or were victims of domestic violence which tends to increases dramatically during times of financial distress.

There are those who have not experienced any job loss or significant financial distress in the past decade, the “concerned citizens” who flood the local governments with complaints about homeless encampments, the out of the way places where the homeless go for shelter; usually located near metropolitan areas where social services are more accessible, and where there is less risk of being shot for trespassing.

In the data above discerning sub-cultures, you will see that the percentages of the homeless population who suffer from SMI, substance abuse, or domestic violence, are the highest of all categories. So, to just provide shelter with sustenance in over-crowded metropolitan areas just prolongs the suffering of good, hardworking people. In addition, people who are forced into sub-standard lifestyles create the base-line for drug and alcohol abuse/addiction, and other compulsive behaviors that lead to chronic illness, all of which further strain public service funding.

In the tables below you can see the employment trends by Educational Attainment, then by Sex/Race/Age. According to the employment data I have gathered for 2014, there were 258,000 payroll jobs added in the US since 2007.  The Civilian Non-Instututional Population over age 16 increased by more than 16 million.

Civilian Labor Force over age 25, Employed by Education Attainment [number in thousands]

(Forgive the horrible looking tables below. If you can size the screen just right, they don't look so bad.)


Empd Ed


CNP Pop07 14

It looks like kids are going to school and new college grads are landing the jobs.  If you're 35-54, looks like you're SOL.  And congrat's to the over 55s who held onto their jobs.

Civilian Labor Force Employed by Sex & Race


CNP SexRace

Is this the Tide-Turning?  No.  It's worse than you might think.  The numbers of minorities earning their Bachelor's and graduate degrees are going up which is great, but the percent of Americans between the ages of 16 & 24 is around 30%.  Many of the "new jobs" created are going to better educated international immigrants.  This is part of the "new wold order" where everyone is called upon to step up and be competitive globally.

This is the last table.  It shows the decline of Full-Time payroll jobs and the rise of Part-Time service jobs:

Empd FtPt

The "REAL WORLD" doesn't look so friendly anymore.  If you were to look at the income tables that show average income levels by job class and category, you would see that the top wage earners are 1) Asian  2) Men  3) White.  Next, if you look at the 35% of children living in single parent households, you'd see that 77% of single parent households are managed by single women, whose median income is roughly $24,000 a year.

These numbers are all estimates based on community surveys and reports issued by major employers, but are definately in the ballpark. Almost 2 million children moved from married households to single parent households during this time period.

Just food for thought.