Basic Facts About Homelessness: New York City

The Coalition for the Homeless provides up-to-date information on New York City’s homeless population. In recent years, homelessness in New York City has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression.

This page provides key statistics and some of the main factors causing modern mass homelessness. You can download these key facts here.

Also see: How many people are homeless in NYC altogether?

The Basic Facts:

  • In recent years, homelessness in New York City has reached the highest level since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
  • In April 2024, 147,518 people slept each night in NYC shelters. Thousands more (there is no reliable number, as the annual HOPE estimate is deeply flawed) slept unsheltered in public spaces, and more than 200,000 people slept temporarily doubled-up in the homes of others. Thus, it can be estimated that more than 350,000 people were without homes in NYC in April 2024.
  • In April 2024, 68 percent of those in shelters were members of homeless families, including 48,298 children. That month, 47,224 single adults slept in shelters. Forty-five percent of those in shelters, or 65,731 individuals, were New Arrivals.*
  • 119,320 NYC schoolchildren experienced homelessness at some point during the 2022–2023 school year, representing more than 11% of all NYC public schoolkids.
  • The primary reason people in NYC become homeless is the lack of affordable housing. Surveys of homeless families have identified the following major immediate, triggering causes of homelessness in NYC: eviction; doubled-up or severely overcrowded housing; domestic violence; job loss; and hazardous housing conditions.
  • Between 1996 and 2017, NYC lost 1.1 million units of affordable housing. The most recent Housing Vacancy Survey indicates a vacancy rate of less than one percent for affordable apartments in NYC.  
  • Families entering shelters (excluding New Arrivals) predominantly come from a few clustered zip codes in the poorest neighborhoods in NYC. However, every community district in NYC contributes to the ongoing homelessness crisis.
  • Compared to homeless families, homeless single adults have higher rates of serious mental illness, substance use disorders, and other severe health problems. There is not yet reliable data on such rates New Arrivals in the shelter system.
  • Of the longer-term New Yorkers (non-New Arrivals) sleeping in the DHS shelters, 43 percent of families with children, 65 percent of single adults, and 75 percent of families without minor children have a disability requiring a facility-related accommodation.
  • The majority of unsheltered homeless individuals are people living with a mental illness or other severe health problems.
  • Black and Hispanic/Latinx New Yorkers are disproportionately affected by homelessness. Approximately 56 percent of heads of household in shelters are Black, 32 percent are Hispanic/Latinx, 7 percent are White, less than 1 percent are Asian-American or Native American, and 4 percent are of unknown race/ethnicity.  Demographic info on asylum seekers and other new arrivals in shelters has not been provided by the City.
  • In City Fiscal Year 2023, the average length of stay in the DHS shelter system was 412 days for single adults, 437 days for families with children, and 750 days for adult families.
  • New York’s legal Right to Shelter has given more than one million homeless New Yorkers a way off the streets since 1981.


  1. Local Law 79 Reports for the shelter census from May 2023 to present (available here:
  2. Local Law 37 Reports for the shelter census from January 2019 through April 2023 (available here:
  3. New York City Council asylum seeker reports for the breakdown of New Arrivals in HPD, DYCD, H+H, and NYCEM (available under the Terms & Conditions section here:
  4. Advocates for Children, Student Homelessness in New York City, 2022–23.
  5. United States Census Bureau, New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey (NYCHVS).
  6. Coalition for the Homeless, Housing DisConnect: Fact-Checking Mayor de Blasio’s Claims on Affordable Housing and Homelessness.

* “New Arrivals” are defined as those from other nations who are arrived in NYC after March 15, 2022.

Updated June 2024