How many people are homeless in NYC altogether?

A flow chart updated in June, 2024 outlining "A comprehensive estimate of the number of people homeless in New York City would need to include people sleeping: Unsheltered (thousands), in shelters (over 140,000) and doubled up (over 200,000).
Chart last updated: June 2024

More than 350,000 people are
without homes in NYC tonight

There is no reliable estimate of number of those sleeping unsheltered. The annual HOPE survey underestimates the true size of this population as its methodology is flawed and, as it is a point-in-time survey, it does not capture the very dynamic nature of unsheltered homelessness.

For example, between May 5, 2020 and January 31, 2022, 9,231 unique individuals approached by City outreach teams at end-of-line subway stations accepted offers of transportation to shelters. Given that this large number reflects only those in end-of-line subway stations, and of those, only those who spoke to outreach teams, and of those, only those who accepted offers of transportation to shelters, one can assume that far more than 9,231 people spent some time sleeping unsheltered in that time frame.

The HOPE survey, in contrast, reported 4,140 people sleeping unsheltered on one night in January 2024. Clearly, the numbers generated by the HOPE survey fail to capture the true scope of unsheltered homelessness in NYC. Watch our Instagram Reel with CBS News here.

Others who are similarly difficult to enumerate include those bedding down in illegal housing, or sleeping in cars or other makeshift arrangements. For many, blending in and avoiding detection are essential survival techniques.

Since 1983, the Coalition has been publishing data showing the average number of people sleeping in shelters each night over the course of each month.  Until 2024, that data had included only the census reported by DHS (and its predecessors) and HPD, since initially those were the only two shelter systems operated by the City.

While other shelter systems emerged over time, tracking the DHS shelter census has been useful because it must expand to meet need (because of the legal Right to Shelter). It has thus served as a useful proxy for tracking the trajectory of NYC’s homeless crisis.

The DHS shelter census saw a steep increase beginning April 2022, when a large number of new arrivals from other nations began appearing in NYC (many bused here by the governor of Texas for political reasons). The City, however, did not begin disaggregating census data on new arrivals until July 2023.

*There are a limited number of private and faith-based shelters providing beds, which are not included in the overall shelter census.

Many households who have lost their homes live doubled-up or tripled-up in the homes of others. The exact number of people living in such precarious conditions in NYC is difficult to determine exactly, but is estimated to exceed 200,000 given that:

  1. There were an estimated 299,162 people living doubled-up in New York State in 2021, based on the US census’ American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) data using these methods; and PIT counts indicate that NYC has 88.62% of the statewide share of homeless people in 2021;
  2. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that in 2019, 1.35% of NYC’s population were living doubled-up; and
  3. Data on NYC public school children living doubled-up is collected by the NYC Department of Education and, according to the analysis of that data by Advocates for Children, of the 119,320 students who were homeless in 2022–23, more than 72,500 were living doubled up.

Living doubled-up is a common precursor to entering the NYC shelter system, and frequently listed by shelter entrants as their reason for needing to seek shelter.

More Facts About Homelessness

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