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Reasons for Homelessness

When looking at homelessness, people generally wonder why there is homelessness in the United States.

The reasons for homelessness vary, but researchers largely agree that people are homeless because they cannot find housing that fits their budget. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 12 million renters and homeowners pay more than 50 percent of their annual income on housing. A family with one full-time earner making minimum wage cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States at fair-market rent.

There are other contributing factors to homelessness and policy makers focus on different populations including homeless families with children, veterans, unaccompanied youth and young adults, re-entry populations, and people experiencing chronic homelessness.

The Metro Homeless Impact Division is focused on supporting our community's efforts to build an effective Housing Crisis Resolution System and to educate the public about what that means.

National data published by the National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that more than 550,000 people experienced homelessness in the United States on any given night. This number is based on the annual Point In Time (PIT) counts that the federal government requires from each community.

Nashville's PIT in the past years was as follows:

  • In 2020 - 2,016
  • In 2019 - 1,986
  • In 2018 - 2,298
  • In 2017 - 2,337
  • In 2016 - 2,365
  • In 2015 - 2,154
  • In 2014 - 2,301
  • In 2013 - 2,335
  • In 2012 - 2,224
  • In 2011 - 2,245

The count includes people staying in shelters and being found sleeping outdoors during one winter night (at the end of January).

In 2018, the national government under the leadership of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness released a new strategic plan called Home, Together that aims to prevent and end homelessness for all populations.

For further information on homelessness, we recommend you begin with the websites of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, and the Community Solutions' Built for Zero campaign.