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15 Best Cities and States to Open a Homeless Shelter

If you are planning to open a homeless shelter, you should first conduct thorough feasibility studies in order to get the right city or state where your homeless shelter will thrive.

The truth is that homeless shelters thrive in cities and states where there are an appreciable number of homeless people.

If you make the mistake of locating your homeless shelter in a city or state that has very minimal homeless people, then you may struggle to keep the shelter open.

Of course, going by how homeless shelters work, location is highly essential, and there are certain cities and states in the United States that are known to have several homeless shelters because there is always the problem of people going homeless from time to time.

Note that your decision to choose a city or state to open your homeless shelter should be driven by a combination of factors, including the local need for such facilities, available resources, and the commitment of local government and community organizations.

Best Cities and States to Open a Homeless Shelter

  1. New York City, New York

One of the reasons why New York has a high homeless population has to do with the lack of affordable housing. In a city of more than 8.3 million people, nearly one in every 83 New Yorkers is homeless, that is more than 100,000 men, women, and children.

More than 4,000 people are living unsheltered in the subways, on the streets of Manhattan, or in one of the other boroughs.

Available data shows that the total number of homeless people sleeping in New York City’s main municipal shelter system is about 86,510. In 2022 the population of New York’s homeless shelters increased as more asylum seekers arrived.

This goes to show that if you open your homeless shelter in New York City, you will be able to contribute your quota to solving the problem of homelessness.

  1. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles, California is home to quite a number of homeless population. The most frequently reported reason for loss of housing was a reduction of income due to unemployment or a decrease in work hours.

In 2023, there are an estimated 75,500 people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. In the city of Los Angeles, there are an estimated 46,000 unhoused residents, LAHSA says.

The 2023 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count results released on 23rd June 2023 show a 9% rise in homelessness on any given night in Los Angeles County to an estimated 75,518 people and a 10% rise in the City of Los Angeles to an estimated 46,260 people. This no doubt is one of the reasons why homeless shelter is needed in Los Angeles, California.

  1. San Francisco, California

The prevalence of homelessness emerged both in San Francisco and the United States in general in the late 1970s and early ’80s.

Available data shows that over 4,000 people sleep on the city’s streets on any given night, while about 4,400 sleep on the city’s streets, according to the city’s most recent one-night count conducted in February 2022.

Apart from the fact that San Francisco has a high number of homeless people, the city has a strong focus on addressing homelessness through both government and nonprofit initiatives.

  1. Seattle, Washington

The King County Regional Homelessness Authority’s 2022 point-in-time count reports that there were 13,368 homeless people in the county.

That is a 12% increase from 2020’s count of 11,751. Homelessness in Washington is primarily driven by a lack of affordable housing and wages that have not kept pace with increasing housing costs.

Interestingly, Seattle has a well-developed system of shelters and services for homeless individuals making the city an ideal place to open homeless shelters.

  1. Portland, Oregon

Available data shows that Oregon has the fourth largest homeless population per capita in the country, after D.C., California, and Vermont, according to the census, and it’s growing at an above-average pace.

The place with the highest level of homelessness in Portland, Oregon, is downtown on W Burnside, near the bridge, both on top and below the stairways.

The second most populous area, however, is outer Southeast, near or north of the Springwater trail, especially near the 205 freeway.

Tight supply and persistent demand for Portland real estate have also contributed to an affordable housing crisis, further limiting the availability of housing for those in need hence increasing the number of homeless people in Portland, Oregon.

  1. Denver, Colorado

The reason why you should consider Denver, Colorado is because of the high number of homeless people in the city. Metropolitan Denver has the nation’s 10th-most homeless people, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2022, the Denver metro homeless population was 6,884.

Overall homelessness in the Denver 7-county metro area increased by 12.8% (6,104 to 6,884) between 2020 and 2022. 2,455 people were identified as newly homeless in 2022, up from 1,326 in 2020. Denver provides shelter and services for its homeless population and is committed to addressing the issue.

  1. Austin, Texas

Going by available data, Austin, Texas should be part of the best cities to open a homeless shelter. While the most recent Point in Time Count estimated that 2,506 people experience homelessness on any given night in Austin, Texas, National Consultants put the homeless population at about 10,000 out of the million Travis County residents, so roughly 1 percent.

According to a recent count, 2,374 people are experiencing homelessness in Travis County.A breakdown of those numbers shows 1,266 people sleeping unsheltered and 1,108 in shelters or transitional housing.

In Austin, City Council District 9, which includes downtown, still claims the highest share of those experiencing homelessness.

  1. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City has gained attention for its Housing First approach to homelessness, which has reduced the number of chronically homeless individuals, but there is still much work to be done hence the need for more homeless shelters.

As a matter of fact, somewhere around 1,000 and up to 3,000 individuals are living on the streets in and around Salt Lake City. They set up tents on the sidewalks and are causing some major problems for downtown Salt Lake City business owners.

Homelessness is a complex issue in Salt Lake City, Utah. Contributing factors can be personal, societal, and cultural and include job loss, divorce, lack of affordable housing, mental illness, physical disability, substance abuse, and many more

  1. Boston, Massachusetts

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were an estimated 15,507 people experiencing homelessness on a single night in Massachusetts in 2022.

Adjusting for population, this comes out to about 22.2 people for every 10,000 state residents, the 11th most among the 50 states.

There was a 17% increase in solo adults experiencing homelessness in Boston, and a similar increase in families staying in shelters and transitional housing.

 The biggest jump — 42% — was among unsheltered adults in the city. Nearly 170 people were found staying on the streets, up from a 30-year low of 119 last year.

  1. Washington, D.C.

If you are considering opening a homeless shelter facility, you may want to consider Washington, D.C. It might interest you to note that on any given night in the District of Columbia, there are 3,705 single persons and 1,172 adults and children in 389 family households who are experiencing homelessness.

These households include 825 unsheltered persons (i.e., persons “on the street”), but it experienced an overall increase of 18% in 2023, with a total of 8,944 people experiencing homelessness.

Note that in DC, nearly 83 percent of individuals experiencing homelessness are Black. At the root of homelessness in the District are high housing costs and the structural racism that has created disparities in housing, wealth, incarceration, and health.

  1. Minneapolis, Minnesota

The reason why you should open a homeless shelter in Minneapolis, Minnesota is because there is a reasonable number of people facing homelessness in Minneapolis, Minnesota despite the fact that Minneapolis provides shelter and services to those in need.

Washington state ranks second in the country for most unhoused people per capita, according to new data from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

By the end of 2022, the department counted 25,211. District residents experiencing homelessness are encouraged to utilize emergency shelters.

  1. San Diego, California

Generally, the state of California has a problem of homelessness, and San Diego, California is one of the cities with a major homelessness problem hence making the city one of the best places to open a homeless shelter.

A count conducted in January found a record high 10,264 homeless people throughout San Diego County, including 5,171 living outdoors or in vehicles, according to findings released Thursday. Lack of considerable income is the major cause of people going homeless in San Diego.

Considering the average rent cost in San Diego County is $2880, it’s clear that individuals and families in San Diego struggle desperately to make ends meet. Unfortunately, most of the people who are facing homelessness in San Diego are women, seniors, and veterans.

  1. Phoenix, Arizona

Just like all the states listed in this article, Phoenix, Arizona has a problem dealing with homeless people in the state. For instance, this year 7,419 people experiencing homelessness were counted.

Of those, 51 percent were unsheltered. The unsheltered count has been steadily increasing over the years. From 2019-20 the unsheltered count increased 18 percent at a higher rate than the sheltered and overall PIT counts.

The primary reasons for homelessness in Phoenix, Arizona include Family Dispute/Overcrowding 2,258 (16%), Economic Reasons 2,239 (16%), and Eviction 1,397 (10%)

  1. Chicago, Illinois

The 2022 PIT Count estimated a total of 3,875 people experiencing homelessness in Chicago. The count identified 2,612 individuals experiencing homelessness residing in shelters and 1,263 people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

Factors contributing to the increase in homelessness in Chicago, Illinois range from a loss of employment and other economic crises to domestic violence, family conflict, and serious behavioral health conditions.

  1. Atlanta, Georgia

The reason why you should open a homeless shelter in Atlanta is that about 2,000 people sleep on the streets at night in Atlanta.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development numbers revealed that 9.9 in every 10,000 people in Georgia experienced homelessness in 2022.

A new homelessness survey suggests there may be more people in Atlanta without a permanent roof over their heads this year than in 2022.