Although it is too early to know the exact outcome of 2020, experts are predicting a significant increase in homelessness in America. The state of homelessness is an ongoing issue; each year tens of millions of Americans are at risk or endangered of being left without basic needs and safety. In 2019, it was estimated that nearly 568,000 people were experiencing homelessness — an increase of 3.0% from 2018, and the third consecutive year with an increase.

Key findings:

  • Colorado ranked the top state in the nation for housing assistance from 2018 to 2019.
  • Connecticut saw a 23.6% decline in homelessness from 2018 to 2019.
  • In 2019, it was estimated that nearly 568,000 were experiencing homelessness.
  • As of November 2020, 10.74 million Americans are unemployed.
  • Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama all had the lowest counts of total homeless per 10K in 2019.
  • New York, Hawaii and California have the most homeless per 10K.

Since March of 2020, our nation has seen an increase in unemployment rates, which has ultimately left many without insurance and incomes. As of November 2020, the national unemployment level of the United States stood at about 10.74 million unemployed persons. The job loss and financial burdens caused by unexpected medical costs are an undeniable consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and put many more at risk of losing their homes.

Informational graphic top 5 states for access programs

To understand which areas of the nation have been most affected by homelessness before the pandemic, our analysts looked at 2019 total homeless per 10K data. New York, Hawaii and California are the top states experiencing high rates. Homelessness varies across the nation; while some states were experiencing higher numbers than others, many states saw declines over the last year. Connecticut saw the biggest drop at 23.6% from 2018 to 2019. Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama all had the lowest counts of total homeless per 10K.

Our team looked at data on state-by-state trends in homeless assistance from 2018 to 2019 to see how individual states have been allocating funding to best support these vulnerable groups. Based on this data, we found that Colorado, Georgia and Oregon have the overall best homeless assistance, and Oklahoma, Arkansas and West Virginia have the worst. Factors we looked at include:

  • Transitional housing
  • Safe haven
  • Rapid re-housing
  • Other permanent housing
  • Emergency shelter change
  • Permanent supportive housing

Colorado, which ranked the top state for homeless assistance based on all the factors, saw a 12.4% decline in homelessness. Mississippi, which had the lowest count of individuals experiencing homelessness in 2019, also saw a decline from 2018 at 12.2%; however, the state did not rank within the top for assistance programs.

States with the best homelessness assistance
State Homelessness rate change Homelessness per 10K
Colorado -12.4% 17
Georgia 8.9% 10
Oregon 9.0% 38
New York 0.7% 47
California 16.5% 38
North Dakota 2.5% 7
New Jersey -5.4% 10
Wyoming -14.4% 9
Idaho 12.9% 13
Missouri 4.9% 10
South Carolina 4.7% 8
Illinois -3.6% 8
Indiana 3.4% 8
Ohio 0.9% 9
Florida -9.5% 13
Kentucky 10.7% 9
Hawaii -1.5% 45
New Mexico 27.0% 15
Texas 1.1% 9
Arizona -0.1% 14
North Carolina -0.6% 9
Massachusetts -7.8% 27
Tennessee -6.1% 11
Alaska -4.7% 26
Mississippi -12.2% 4
Maryland -8.2% 11
Vermont -15.3% 17
Maine -16.7% 16
Minnesota 9.6% 14
Nebraska -2.6% 12
New Hampshire -4.0% 10
South Dakota -14.4% 11
Nevada -6.4% 23
Kansas 7.4% 8
Iowa -15.8% 7
Alabama -5.4% 7
Connecticut -23.6% 9
Washington -4.3% 28
Michigan 2.8% 9
Virginia -3.3% 7
Wisconsin -7.7% 8
Louisiana -3.6% 6
Delaware -15.5% 9
Pennsylvania -2.3% 10
Utah -4.1% 9
Montana -4.0% 13
Rhode Island -4.3% 10
West Virginia 13.3% 8
Arkansas 0.0% 9
Oklahoma 1.5% 10

During the pandemic months in 2020, temporary eviction moratoriums that some states and local governments have put into place are set to expire, meaning more could face evictions in the coming weeks. Filings for eviction were temporarily paused under the CARES Act, but not everyone was protected under its moratorium. The rental market in 2020 has been significantly impacted; rental assistance programs, such as ones providing subsidy payments from a state or local government to renters or landlords, have been the last resort for many individuals this year. Some states have already been experiencing these issues. In Mississippi, 33.0% of renter households had extremely low income, which is the highest in the nation.

Although the analysis of these states with assistance programs does not include data for 2020, major circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic — like an increase in unemployment and uninsured — will surely have an effect on the number and types of programs put into place in the upcoming year. We will update our report as further findings become available.


To find which states have the biggest improvements in homelessness assistance, QuoteWizard analyzed the National Alliance to End Homelessness data on the rate change of homeless assistance programs between 2018 and 2019. We analyzed seven assistance program factors and compiled the data into a composite ranking. The ranking is based on each state’s rate change of emergency shelters, other permanent housing, permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing, safe haven program, transitional housing and the total number of rental assistance programs. Associated with the ranking are the homeless rate change per state between 2018 and 2019 and the rate of homelessness per 10,000 people in 2019 from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

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