The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Which states have the highest levels of homelessness?

Welcome to a recurring feature on Storyline where we identify the counties that are “normal” for an issue in the American landscape, compared to the national average.

On a given day in 2013, more than 600,000 Americans were homeless.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides state-level estimations of homelessness every year and also collects data on many metropolitan areas. By official measures, the U.S. has seen a 9 percent decline in homeless population since 2007, from about 672,000 to 610,000 last year.

In the U.S., about 195 of every 100,000 people were homeless in 2013. Colorado, with a rate of 193 per 100,000, is the closest to that average.

The worst in terms of homelessness is the District of Columbia with a rate of 1,133 per 100,000 people. Because D.C. is a metropolitan area, its count is far above states, which aren’t comparable in this scenario.

For example, New York City is at 768 per 100,000, a lower rate than D.C., but nearly 10 times the homeless population. For this data, it’s unfair to include D.C. as the “worst state” in terms of homelessness.

States with high and low homeless rates are all over the country. The highest rates of homelessness among states are in Hawaii (465 per 100,000), followed by New York (399) and California (367).

The lowest homeless counts per capita come in Mississippi (81 per 100,000), Indiana (94) and Kansas (94).