6 Best Cities To Be Homeless in the US
Published April 21st, 2021
In the strictest sense of the word, there are no best cities to be homeless. Having no permanent housing is hard no matter where you are in the world. And no person should ever be able to experience it.
But if we are to compare the state of homelessness among cities in the US, the difference can be striking. On one side, you’ll see cities that are trying really hard to address their homelessness problem. On the other, some cities are doing their best to ignore it. The former usually have legislations and various programs in place to address the problem. While the latter tend to have restrictive policies against the homeless.
In this post, we’ll feature the cities that are winning the fight against homelessness. We looked at not just the numbers but the overall picture: the how, whether what they’re doing is sustainable, and the homeless people’s quality of life.
Here are the best cities for homeless people in the US:
1. Houston, Texas
In less than 10 years, Houston has successfully reduced its homeless population by 55%. This success is largely due to its Housing First Policy that aims to quickly move homeless people from shelters to permanent housing. As we can see from the numbers, the strategy seems to be working. In fact, it’s hailed as one of the best practices for ending homelessness.
What makes the program so successful is that it addresses the problem at the roots. Everything else seems to follow when someone has a permanent place of their own. It gives them a solid ground to get back on their feet. They can start looking for a job and dream of a better future. All of which is virtually impossible when you are living on the street.
2. Austin, Texas
Following in Houston’s footsteps, Austin also made a considerable dent in its homeless population.
In 2018, the City Council made ending homelessness their top priority. The action led to more resources being allocated to address homelessness as a whole. This includes meeting their immediate needs, housing programs, and preventing more people from becoming homeless.
The city has also put in place an ordinance that allows camping in public places. They hope that the increased visibility of homeless people would also raise awareness about their plight.
3. Salt Lake City, Utah
In 2015, Salt Lake City officials announced that they have virtually eliminated homelessness in the city. Of course, that’s quite a stretch especially now that the city is again experiencing a spike in homelessness. But it cannot be denied that the city has done something right when it comes to ending homelessness.
Ten years ago, the city started a homeless initiative that prioritizes housing for the homeless. Instead of the typical run-of-the-mill housing in a shady part of town, they built spaces that homeless people would actually want to live in. They’re standard quality, aesthetically pleasing, and most importantly affordable for people on housing programs.
4. Berkeley, California
Four years ago, Berkeley was in the throes of a homeless crisis. A survey in January 2017 concluded that about 1% of the city’s population is homeless. Though the numbers haven’t improved drastically over the past few years, living in the city has some advantages when you’re homeless.
For one, the city has mild weather for most of the year. This makes it more conducive to living outdoors. Berkeley is also home to a number of non-profit organizations that serve the homeless.
Recently, the city has also implemented the Coordinated Entry System (CES). It’s a program that aims to:
- streamline the homeless assessment process and services
- prioritize disabled and chronically homeless people
- create a central coordination system for referrals
Part of the program is a hotline that homeless people can call for emergency shelter, transitional housing, and other homeless services.
5. San Diego, California
Like Berkeley, San Diego has a moderate climate suitable for living outdoors. Though the city still has one of the largest homeless population in the country, it’s actively taking steps to curb the problem.
Aside from providing homeless services, the city also built tents and temporary shelters. It also has various non-profit organizations that provide food, shelter, and other necessary services to the homeless.
The city’s housing first policy has also moved thousands of homeless people from temporary shelters to permanent housing.
6. New Orleans, Louisiana
After hurricane Katrina, the number of homeless people in New Orleans has skyrocketed. In 2007, the city has about 12,000 homeless people or about 10,000 more from before Katrina. But in 2018, the city has managed to bring it down to less than 1,200.
Like most cities in this list, New Orlean’s success is largely due to its housing first policy. The city used federal funds to create permanent housing for homeless people without requiring them to get over their addiction. They have also put up a hundred low-barrier shelters where people can stay without having to sober up.
Though homelessness remains a major issue in the country, the progress made by these cities gives us hope. And we can only wish that other cities can learn a thing or two from them.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a full time blogger and is devoted to topics about charity, kindness, and Christianity. She is part of Correct Digital, Inc which is paid by private donors to provide website digital marketing services to this non-profit organization.