Departmental Papers (SPP)

Document Type

Government Publication

Date of this Version

May 2005


Convergent sources suggest that as many as 600,000 families are homeless annually in the United States. This includes approximately 1.26 million children, representing 10% of the nation’s poor children each year.

The National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (NSHAPC),1 conducted with homeless people using 16 types of homeless assistance programs in 76 geographical areas, is the only nationally representative data source available to estimate the number of families who are homeless in the United States. The NSHAPC estimated that family members made up 34% of the homeless population. Of this estimate, 23% were children and 11% were adults. These estimates, reflecting two different sampling points during 1996, suggest that 420,000 and 725,000 households respectively (1.3% - 2.2% percent of all families) were homeless at least one time during that year. The midpoint of the estimates would yield an estimate of 1.8% of all families (572,000 households) being homeless for at least one day during 1996. When just the poverty population is considered, the midpoint estimate indicates that 8% of poor families were homeless for at least one day during 1996.


Postprint version. Published by The US Interagency Council on Homelessness, May 2005, 28 pages.



Date Posted: 30 August 2007