Facts on Homelessness

A Project HOME outreach workers speaking with a person experiencing homelessness

Call the Philadelphia Homeless Outreach Hotline at 215-232-1984 to get help for someone experiencing homelessness.

Homelessness in the United States

All information extracted from the 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress.

On a single night in 2022, roughly 582,500 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. Six in ten (60 percent) were staying in sheltered locations—emergency shelters, safe havens, or transitional housing programs—and four in ten (40 percent) were in unsheltered locations such as on the street, in abandoned buildings, or in other places not suitable for human habitation. 

Latest Data

Homelessness has increased slightly nationwide.

  • Homelessness increased nationally by less than 1 percent between 2020 and 2023, accounted for by a 3 percent increase in unsheltered individuals experiencing homelessness and a 2 percent increase in sheltered individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • Between 2021 and 2022, however, sheltered homelessness increased by 7 percent.
  • Seventy-two percent of people experiencing homelessness were adults in households without children. The remaining 28 percent of people experiencing homelessness did so as part of a family, marking a decrease of about 10,500 people since 2020.

On a single night in 2022, more than 30,000 people under the age of 25 experienced homelessness on their own as “unaccompanied youth.” Slightly more than half of these youth (57 percent) were in sheltered locations. Most (91 percent) were between the ages of 18 and 24. Four percent of the unaccompanied youth population reports identifying as transgender, not singularly female or male, or gender questioning, compared with one percent of all individuals experiencing homeless.

Nearly 30 percent of individuals experiencing homelessness in 2020 had chronic patterns of homelessness.

  • Chronic homelessness among individuals increased by 15 percent between 2019 and 2020 but is 8 percent lower since 2007. However, 2020 had the highest recorded number of chronically homeless individuals since 2008.
  • Two-thirds of these individuals were unsheltered—staying outdoors in abandoned buildings, or other locations not suitable for human habitation rather than staying in shelters, reflecting the high degree of vulnerability of this population.*

The number of veterans experiencing homelessness declined by 11 percent (4,123 fewer people) between 2020 and 2022.

  • Since 2009, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness has decreased by 55 percent (36,115 individuals).

*Chronically homeless individuals are individuals with disabilities who have either been continuously experiencing homelessness for one year or more or who have experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years where the combined length of time homeless in those occasions is at least 12 months.


Homelessness in Philadelphia

Latest Data

Each year, Philadelphia homeless outreach organizations engage more than 6,000 individuals living on the street, in cars, abandoned buildings, train/bus stations, and other places not meant for human habitation. 

  • Approximately 8,206 unduplicated people (including families) accessed emergency shelter in Philadelphia last year.  In addition, numerous individuals were turned away from shelter due to limited capacity.

During the 2019 - 2020 school year, 3,800 children and youth in Philadelphia experienced homelessness. However, the Philadelphia Department of Education suspects that the actual number of students experiencing homelessness is higher.

Sheltered and Unsheltered Point-in-Time Count Totals
*Starting in 2014, unsheltered counts include increased coverage of the Kensington area and other communities that were not previously included, causing street count numbers to increase.
 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 


Causes of Homelessness in Philadelphia

The causes of homelessness are diverse and related to many systemic and institutional structures within our country. We recognize that homelessness has many intersecting causes and that data quality and availability is, for now, still limited. We have decided to highlight a few of the causes of homelessness in Philadelphia with supported data.  

Lack of jobs at competitive living wages

Disparity between housing costs and minimum wage, public supports, or earned benefits

Lack of affordable housing and inadequate housing assistance

Lack of affordable health care

Inadequate support for mental health and substance use challenges

Racial inequality

National opioid crisis

Domestic violence

Systemic Oppression 


Solutions to Homelessness

At Project HOME, we believe in a holistic approach to ending and preventing homelessness and poverty, including: 

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)

  • Permanent Supportive Housing has been shown by multiple national studies to be a cost effective solution to ending homelessness. Saving Lives, Saving Money, a study conducted by Project HOME in 2010, concluded that PSH saves $7,700 per person per year (over the cost of serving an unsheltered individual).
  • Affordable housing is a critical component of addressing homelessness, but is insufficient on its own. Integrating housing with case management allows residents to receive services in a timely and convenient manner. Studies have found that individuals and families receiving case management are more likely to have maintained stable housing a year later.
  • Investments in PSH have decreased chronic homelessness by 27 percent since 2007.

Project HOME offers a range of housing for individuals and families who have experienced homelessness, including 1038 units of affordable supportive housing, with an additional 40 units under construction and 100 units in the pipeline. 

Opportunities for employment, increased income, and education

  • Breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty requires not only housing, but sustainable, competitive employment at a living wage.  
  • Connection to mainstream benefits and entitlement income through BenePhilly, Homeless Advocacy Project, and other resources is a key component of preventing and ending homelessness. 

Project HOME’s Adult Learning and Employment programs provide computer classes, career training, job readiness workshops, life skills workshops, GED classes, adult basic literacy classes, and access to other resources to help local residents improve their lives, gain employment and pursue higher education.

Affordable and accessible healthcare

Health and homelessness are inextricably linked. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, an acute physical or behavioral health crisis or any long-term disabling condition may lead to homelessness. Homelessness exacerbates chronic medical conditions. 

Holistic healthcare services that address the whole person are most successful. Physical healthcare or dental care can be gateways for people to accept behavioral health services and holistic healthcare. 

Through Project HOME's Healthcare Services, we offer integrated physical and behavioral healthcare and recovery services and wellness programs for people who are currently experiencing homelessness or those who are formerly homeless, as well as for people living in the North Philadelphia community.  

A coordinated approach to crisis response

  • Homelessness prevention programs can help ensure that no one ends up in shelters or on the streets. This includes reinvesting in economically vulnerable neighborhoods, improving the school system, making sure people have access to health care, and providing jobs at a living wage, as well as shelter diversion programs. 
  • A coordinated entry system allows individuals to receive housing and services more quickly, and allows organizations to pool data in order to more accurately understand our population’s needs. Project HOME transitioned to a Central Intake model in 2018, in tandem with the City of Philadelphia’s new Coordinated Entry system. These structures allow Project HOME to place vulnerable individuals in appropriate housing in a more efficient and timely manner.  

Project HOME works with Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services and Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities as a part of the local Continuum of Care (a network of government agencies, provider organizations, local stakeholders, and individuals currently or formerly experiencing homelessness) to implement a strategic, city-wide response to homelessness.

None of us are home until all of us are home®