The population of the Homeless is incredibly diverse and varies widely across age groups, ethnic backgrounds, family circumstances, and health issues. Despite the increase in the number of homeless families in recent years, the demographics are not uniform across the country. In the western states, two-parent families are far more common than single-parent households, while large eastern cities tend to have a higher proportion of adult homeless men. Although homeless families do not have uniform demographics, they are often long-term residents of the cities in which they live.
In 2005, there were an estimated 100 million people who were homeless. The numbers differ widely by country, as each country counts homeless people differently. In other words, different organizations have different approaches to determining the number of homeless people in a city or country. For example, a study of men living on skid row found that their death rate was 70 per thousand, while the national death rate was eleven per thousand. As a result, it is important to note that homelessness is a social issue that is largely preventable, but the system must be changed to keep it from spreading.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which sets federal guidelines, has put together a database of information on the homeless. This allows organizations to compare their data on an apples-to-apples basis. By having a standardized dataset, government agencies can assess the needs of homeless populations on a level playing field. In addition, local and national nonprofit organizations have a major role to play in the fight against homelessness, attracting private donations and mobilizing volunteer armies. In fact, hundreds of organizations work every day to help individuals transition into permanent housing, provide shelter for abuse victims, and advocate for human trafficking victims.
The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development will also consider unaccompanied youth and families who have fled violent situations in their past. This may include dating violence, sexual assault, and domestic violence. However, most homeless individuals and families are experiencing a variety of factors, and each stage is distinct. In addition, these individuals and families may also be living in a car or couch-surfing. Despite the fact that their current situation is not permanent, they are considered homeless because they have no other place to live and are unable to obtain permanent housing.
Currently, homelessness is recorded differently across different countries, and many people do not show up in official statistics. The charity Crisis carries out a study on the subject each year, to address the concern that many people are largely uncounted. However, the study also includes many people who do not meet the official definition of homelessness. There are many cases where homeless people may be able to access emergency shelter and are living in hostels, while other cases are not.
Despite the increase in homelessness in the United States, the number of homeless people has increased in recent years. In June 1988, the National Alliance to End Homelessness reported that there were an estimated 735,000 people living in the streets on any given night and that the number of people experiencing homelessness will increase between 1.3 million and two million during the entire year. In addition to the increasing numbers, a recent survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that none of the 25 representative cities had a declining number of homeless people, and most reported annual increases of between 15 and 50 percent.