This resource provides facts concerning families experiencing homelessness.
Families Experiencing Homelessness
According to the 2010 AHAR, “A typical homeless family consists of a mother and two children,” and people in families experiencing homelessness are more likely to be headed by a woman, to identify as minorities, and are significantly less likely to have a disability.i”
On a given night in January 2010ii:
- 241,951 persons in families were homeless in shelters, transitional housing programs, or on the streets (37.2% of all homeless persons)
Over the course of a year (October 2009-September 2010)iii:
- 567,334 persons in families were homeless in shelters or transitional housing programs (35.2% of the total sheltered homeless population)
- Of the total number of sheltered households (rather than separate people), 168,000 households were families (14.0%)
- Among homeless families in shelters, women comprise 77.9% of adultsiv
In 2009, the National Center on Family Homelessness analyzed state-level data and found that nationwide, 1.5 million children experience homelessness in a yearv.
According to 1996 data from the NSHAPCvi:
- 32% of people who were homeless were women
- Among these women, 84% were members of homeless families
- About 200,000 children were members of homeless familiesvii
- Among these children, 42% were under six years oldviii
Gender, Age, Race/Ethnicity
Among all sheltered persons in families over the course of a year (October 2009-September 2010)ix:
- 77.9% were female
- 22.1% were male
- 59.3% were under age 18
- 23.2% were ages 18-30
- 16.2% were ages 31-50
- 1.2% were ages 51-61
- Less than 1% were 62 and older
Among all families residing in shelters or transitional housing programs over the course of a year (October 2009-September 2010):
- 42% were African-American
- 31% were White, Non-Hispanic
- 12% were White, Hispanic
- 8.5% were Multiple Races; 6.4% were Other Single Race
According to 1996 NSHAPC datax:
- 43% are African-American
- 38% are White, Non-Hispanic
- 15% are Hispanic
- 3% are Native American
Serious Mental Illness, Traumatic Stress & Substance Use
- Over 92% of mothers who are homeless have experienced severe physical and/or sexual abuse during their lifetimexi xii.
- About two-thirds of homeless mothers have histories of domestic violence.
- Compared to low-income housed women, mothers who are homeless havexiii:
- Three times the rate of posttraumatic stress disorder (36%)
- Twice the rate of drug and alcohol dependence (41%)
- About 50% of homeless mothers have experienced a major depression since becoming homelessxiv.
- Among homeless children, within a single year:
- 97% move, many up to three timesxv.
- 22% are separated from familiesxvi.
- 25% witness violencexvii xviii xix xx.
- Children who are homeless experience higher rates of emotional and behavioral problemsxxi xxii than low-income housed childrenxxiii.
View the HRC's additional factsheets:
- Individuals Experiencing Homelessness
- Individuals Experiencing Chronic/Long-Term Homelessness
- Individuals Experiencing Short-Term Homelessness
- Families Experiencing Homelessness
- Unaccompanied Youth Experiencing Homelessness
- Elders/Older Adults Experiencing Homelessness
- Veterans Experiencing Homelessness
- Incarcerated People and Homelessness