America’s Homeless Capital

Which U.S. city holds this title? 

For years, officials have dubbed the city of Los Angeles the “homeless capital” of America. They used the total number of homeless for the entire County of Los Angeles, which includes 87 other cities plus the city of LA, as their scorecard.

People in other cities, however, have disagreed.

According to a Huffington Post report,Trip Advisor names Portland the homeless capital. Others have given San Francisco this distinction, and a city councilman in Dallas thinks his city could be the homeless capital. And besides Los Angeles, of course, New York City is a contender for the title of homeless capital of America.

The HuffPost report continues by looking at some different approaches to determine this distinction.

Total number of people who are homeless. The HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) 2013 report to the U.S. Congress stated that New York City (with 64,060 people who are homeless) was the top city for homelessness, followed by Los Angeles County (53,798). This LA number, however, did not include three cities within the county that counted on their own. The total LA County number is actually 58,423. “Winner”: New York City

Total number of people on the streets. Official homeless counts include people in shelters, in uninhabitable places (like cars), and on the streets. The total HUD number reflects all of these people. When just the unsheltered homeless population is considered, then the city of Los Angeles would be on top with 25,136 people living on its streets. Of New York City's homeless population, more than 50,000 are living in shelters. “Winner”: Los Angeles County

Highest percent increase of homelessness. Since the previous homeless count in 2011, the City of New York increased their homeless population by 25 percent. Los Angeles increased by 16 percent from 2011 to 2013. Surprisingly, however, these two cities do not report the highest increase. The entire state of North Dakota reported a dramatic increase in homelessness from 2012 to 2013 by a whopping 200.7 percent increase. “Winner”: North Dakota

Highest percent of homeless among general population. Some people claim that it’s not fair to compare mega-cities and their millions of people with smaller cities. Of course, mega-cities will have a higher number of people who are homeless. Instead, when comparing the percent of homeless among the total population, here are the results.

The County of San Diego, California, has 8,879 people who are homeless but their homeless population only consists of 0.28 percent of the total population. Seattle and King County is the third highest total homeless population in the country with 9,106 people, but their ratio is only 0.45 percent. The mega-city of Los Angeles has 58,000 homeless, and their ratio is 0.58 percent. The city with the highest number of homeless, however, also has the highest ratio of homeless to their total population. New York City has a ratio of 0.77 percent. “Winner”: New York City

So, who is the “winner” of this sad human tragedy? Who should be deemed the homeless capital of America? Given the assessment listed above, New York City takes the crown away from Los Angeles.