Data + Research: Geography of Homelessness

written by naehblog
July 16, 2009

There’s been a lot – a pretty hefty amount – of data collected about the size of the homeless population. I mean, we really have to had it to HUD; there’s been a concerted effort to make sure we have as much information as possible about this social problem.

Less is known, however, about where that population is. Where are they? Where do they sleep? Are they able to access services? Do we really have an accurate count?

So here, at the Alliance, we’ve been taking a good, hard look at geography.

Geography is important. Just ask people about redlining and redistricting and public school systems. It’s why people look for apartments and houses in particular neighborhoods. It’s one reason there are so many people in NYC and SF and LA.

And it’s no less important to the homeless.

Homelessness is often painted as an urban phenomenon, but we know there are homeless people in suburban and rural areas – and we’re fairly sure that they’re experience is different than that of their big city counterparts because of their geography.

But just to be super-sure, we’ve launched: the Geography of Homelessness!

In this monthly series, we’re answering the following questions (not necessarily in this order):

  • Do rural areas have different rates of homelessness than other areas?


  • How do aspects of homeless systems assistance (e.g. funding, beds) vary by geography?


  • Have certain geographic types (e.g. rural, suburban) experienced greater rates of change in their homeless populations than others?


  • To what extent are people experiencing homelessness in urban areas in major cities, as opposed to suburbs or urban areas in minor cities?


  • Do CoCs that have similar homelessness characteristics have other similar demographic characteristics (poverty, unemployment)?

Part One of the series – Defining the Spectrum – defines the parameters of the research and lays out some FAQs: how do we define urban/rural? What’s the baseline scenario? And the like…

Check it out, and don’t forget to tune in to make sure you don’t miss one of our monthly releases.