17 U.S. Poverty Statistics to Know

Hey there, folks! In a world brimming with data and numbers, it’s crucial to zoom in on those that truly hit home. So, let’s chat about what’s happening right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. We’re diving deep into the 17 U.S. poverty stats that are shaping the narrative in 2023.

Buckle up, because these numbers aren’t just statistics; they’re stories of real people, real struggles, and hopefully, real change on the horizon.

Poverty Trends in the U.S.: General Statistics

Discover the latest statistics and trends in poverty in the United States, offering insights into the economic challenges faced by individuals and families across the nation.

homelessness rate by states

Subgroups with Declining Homelessness (2020-2023)

  • Families with Children: Experienced a decrease in homelessness, indicating potential positive impacts of support efforts.
  • Youth: The numbers of homeless youth also decreased, highlighting the effectiveness of targeted interventions.
  • Veterans: The veteran homelessness rate was cut in half over a decade (2010-2020), with 83 communities and 3 states effectively ending veteran homelessness.
homelessness rate over the years

Concerning Trends in Individual Homelessness

  • Record Highs: The overall number of individuals experiencing homelessness reached 421,392, surpassing the previous 2007 record.
  • Chronically Homeless Individuals: The count of chronically homeless individuals also reached an all-time high, signaling a shift after a period of declining numbers.

U.S. Poverty Statistics by Race, Ethnicity, and Gender

Explore the intricate dynamics of poverty in the United States by delving into statistics that highlight disparities based on race, ethnicity, and gender, shedding light on socioeconomic inequalities.

Data Disaggregation Since 2015

In 2015, HUD began providing homelessness data categorized by race, ethnicity, and specific gender groups, offering valuable insights despite a relatively short reporting history.

HUD began providing seperate insight for each segment

Uneven Progress

Progress in addressing homelessness has varied significantly among different identity groups during this period.

White People and Hispanics/Latinos: These groups have seen an upward trend in homelessness, indicating a concerning increase.

homelessness rate is increasing in hispanics and white people

Subgroup Population Shifts Since 2015

A closer look at how each subgroup has fared since 2015 reveals notable changes within these categories.

  • Transgender Individuals: Experienced a staggering 178 percent increase in homelessness, highlighting their heightened vulnerability.
transgender homelessness over the years
  • Asian Americans: Saw a 36 percent increase, reflecting a concerning trend.
asian american homelessness over the years
  • American Indian: Witnessed a 30 percent increase in homelessness.
native american homelessness over years
  • Latino Community: Experienced a 25 percent increase in homelessness, indicating a growing issue within this demographic.
latino american homelessness over the years

U.S. Poverty Homelessness Trends Statistics

Get a comprehensive look at the intertwining issues of poverty and homelessness in the United States with statistics and trends that provide valuable insights into these pressing societal challenges.

Rise in Unsheltered Homelessness

Unsheltered homelessness, where individuals live on the streets or in other public places, has been decreasing from 2007 to 2015. However, recent years have witnessed a reversal in this trend.

Recent Increase: Since 2015, unsheltered homelessness has been steadily rising, with a notable 35 percent increase over seven years.

Decline in Shelter Population

Interestingly, despite the addition of more shelter beds, the number of people using these facilities has been decreasing.

Downward Trend: The shelter population has been on a downward trajectory, even during 2021, which was uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in reduced congregate shelter capacity and, consequently, reduced inflow into shelters.

unsheltered population on rise and sheltered on decline

Disparate Impacts on Specific Populations

Certain populations have experienced even more significant growth in unsheltered homelessness since 2015, raising particular concerns.

  • Transgender Individuals: Witnessed a staggering 231 percent increase.
  • Asian Americans: Saw an 83 percent increase.
  • Latino Community: Experienced a 77 percent increase.
  • American Indian: Faced a 61 percent increase in unsheltered homelessness.
  • Regional Focus: These challenges are concentrated in western states (California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii) known for their diversity and affordable housing crises, with the majority of affected individuals residing in these states.
unsheltered homelessness rising in each segment

Increased Shelter Bed Capacity

The nation’s shelter bed capacity has grown by 7 percent since 2019, indicating efforts to expand the shelter system.

Potential Reasons: This increase may be a response to the rise in unsheltered homelessness and the availability of pandemic relief funds to create additional shelter beds.

shelter bed capacity has grown since 2019

U.S. Poverty Homeless Assistance in America Statistics

Gain a deep understanding of poverty and homelessness in the United States by examining statistics related to the assistance efforts aimed at addressing these critical social issues.

Resource Allocation Challenges

Homeless service systems often grapple with limited resources, making it challenging to provide housing for everyone in need. As a result, they face difficult decisions about who to help and how to allocate available funds between temporary shelter and permanent housing options.

Shelter Beds

The rise in unsheltered homelessness since 2015 has prompted systems to expand shelter capacity, increasing the total number of shelter beds by 7 percent over the past four years.

  • Historical Shortages: The consistent shortage of shelter beds since data collection began in 2007 has been a significant contributor to unsheltered homelessness. At its peak, there were 225,000 more people experiencing homelessness than available shelter beds in the United States. Although the gap has reduced, it remains substantial, particularly impacting individual adults.
  • 2022 Shortage: In 2022, national-level data revealed a shortage of nearly 188,000 year-round shelter beds for individual adults, only accommodating 55 percent of this population’s needs. There appears to be a surplus of available accommodations for families with children and unaccompanied youth. However, community circumstances can vary.
sheltered population is decreasing

Permanent Housing Beds

  • Homeless service systems prioritize permanent housing options over temporary shelter, aligning with the Housing First approach. This approach emphasizes placing individuals in permanent housing as quickly as possible while offering necessary support services.
  • Growth Trend: Permanent housing constitutes 60 percent of all beds connected to homeless services systems, consistently increasing 26 percent over the last five years. Despite these investments, homelessness, including unsheltered homelessness, continues to rise, revealing that available resources fall short of meeting the demand.
most of sheltered people live under permanent housing

Common Forms of Assistance

The predominant housing assistance categories are:

  • Permanent Supportive Housing (37 percent of system beds): Offering a stable home environment with support services.
  • Emergency Shelter (32 percent of system beds): Providing temporary refuge for immediate needs.
  • Rapid Re-Housing: This category has grown by 60 percent over the last five years, emphasizing quick placement in permanent housing with support.
  • Transitional Housing: This model, which requires individuals to meet certain benchmarks before transitioning to permanent housing, has declined in popularity due to a shift towards the evidence-backed Housing First strategy.
distribution of sheltered population

U.S. Poverty Risk Indicator Statistics

Explore key indicators and statistics related to the risk of poverty in the United States, offering insights into the factors and challenges that contribute to economic vulnerability.

Poverty Rate

The national poverty rate had seen a five-year decline leading up to the pandemic. However, in 2020, this streak was broken as the number of people living in poverty increased by approximately 3.3 million individuals. This trend continued into 2021, with nearly 41.4 million people (12.8 percent of the U.S. population) counted as living in poverty.

US national poverty rate

Disparities: Specific racial groups faced even higher poverty rates, including Black people (21.8 percent), American Indian and Alaska Native people (21.4 percent), and Hispanics/Latinos (17.5 percent). People living in poverty often struggle to afford essentials like housing, food, and medical care.

poverty rate between races

Severe Housing Cost Burden

In 2021, an estimated 7.1 million American households experienced a severe housing cost burden, meaning they spent over 50 percent of their income on housing. This group had been gradually shrinking since 2014 but saw an increase in 2021.

Trends: The number of severely cost-burdened households is now 25 percent higher than in 2007, the year homelessness data monitoring began. Specific subpopulations like those with the lowest incomes and female-headed households may face even more troubling patterns.

households under severe housing cst burden in US

“Doubling Up”

“Doubling up,” or sharing housing with others for economic reasons, is another indicator of housing hardship and the risk of homelessness. In 2021, approximately 3.7 million people in the U.S. found themselves in these situations.

Patterns: Similar to severely housing cost-burdened households, the number of people living doubled up had been decreasing but saw an uptick in 2021. Currently, the doubled-up population is 25 percent smaller than in 2015, the year for which data became available.

Doubled up households in US over time

Regional Disparities

National data on housing cost-burdened households and those doubled up don’t reveal the full story, as certain regions across the country face more acute challenges than the national average.

  • Severe Housing Cost Burden: Several states and the District of Columbia experienced higher growth rates in severe housing cost-burdened households, such as Wyoming (155 percent since 2007), Nevada (87 percent), Maryland (72 percent), and Hawaii (65 percent).
most severe housing cost burdened states in united states
  • Doubling Up: From 2015 to 2021, South Dakota saw a 59 percent increase, and Maine experienced a 36 percent rise in the number of people living doubled up.
most doubled up families by states in united states


As we wrap up our journey through the 17 U.S. poverty stats of 2023, one thing is crystal clear: behind each figure lies a life, a family, and a community. These numbers aren’t just dry data points; they’re reminders of our challenges and the work ahead.

But they’re also a testament to resilience and the power of collective action. Let’s keep these stats in mind as we strive for a brighter, more equitable future for all. Because, in the end, it’s not just about numbers; it’s about people and the promise of a better tomorrow.

Frequently Asked Question

1. What are the current poverty rates in the United States?

In 2021, nearly 41.4 million Americans, or 12.8 percent of the population, were living in poverty. Certain racial groups, such as Black people and Hispanics, faced even higher poverty rates.

2. How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted homelessness trends?

The pandemic led to a rise in unsheltered homelessness since 2015, an increase in severe housing cost burden, and more people “doubling up” with others due to economic reasons.

3. What is the significance of severe housing cost burden?

Severe housing cost burden affects 7.1 million American households, where over 50 percent of income is spent on housing. This issue was on the decline but increased in 2021, posing significant financial challenges.

4. What are the top forms of housing assistance in homeless service systems?

The primary forms of assistance are permanent supportive housing (37 percent of system beds), emergency shelter (32 percent), and rapid re-housing, which has grown by 60 percent in the last five years.

5. Are there regional disparities in homelessness risk indicators?

Some states, like Wyoming, Nevada, Maryland, and Hawaii, have seen higher growth rates in severe housing cost-burdened households. Similarly, South Dakota and Maine have witnessed significant increases in the number of people “doubling up” for housing.