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. You can find more information about homelessness at the following page: Facts About Homelessness (main page)

This page provides an overview of homelessness in New York City. Here you can find the key statistics about New York City’s homeless shelter population and a brief description of some of the main factors causing modern homelessness. You can also download a fact sheet about homelessness in New York City.

The Basic Facts:

  • In recent years, homelessness in New York City has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
  • In August 2021, there were 47,916 homeless people, including 14,946 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system. A near-record 18,236 single adults slept in shelters in August 2021.
  • Over the course of City fiscal year 2020, 122,926 different homeless adults and children slept in the New York City municipal shelter system. This includes more than 39,300 homeless children.
  • In 2015, families entering shelters predominantly came from a few clustered zip codes in the poorest neighborhoods in New York City. However, homeless families and single adults come from every zip code in NYC prior to entering shelters.
  • The number of homeless New Yorkers sleeping each night in municipal shelters is now 18 percent higher than it was ten years ago. The number of homeless single adults is 97 percent higher than it was ten years ago.
  • Research shows that the primary cause of homelessness, particularly among families, is lack of affordable housing. Surveys of homeless families have identified the following major immediate, triggering causes of homelessness: eviction; doubled-up or severely overcrowded housing; domestic violence; job loss; and hazardous housing conditions.
  • Research shows that, compared to homeless families, homeless single adults have much higher rates of serious mental illness, addiction disorders, and other severe health problems.
  • Each night thousands of unsheltered homeless people sleep on New York City streets, in the subway system, and in other public spaces. There is no accurate measurement of New York City’s unsheltered homeless population, and recent City surveys significantly underestimate the number of unsheltered homeless New Yorkers.
  • Studies show that the large majority of unsheltered homeless New Yorkers are people living with mental illness or other severe health problems.
  • Black and Hispanic/Latinx New Yorkers are disproportionately affected by homelessness. Approximately 57 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.

New York City Homelessness: Downloads

The following documents are available for download:

Fact Sheet

Homelessness Charts


Updated November, 2021