SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — California has more people experiencing homelessness than any other state in the nation, according to a report from Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report takes a detailed look at homelessness across the country. Between 2020 and 2022, the number of people experiencing homelessness in the nation grew by less than 1%, the report says. California has more than double the number of homeless people of the next state on the list, New York. California was home to an estimated 39 million as of 2022, according to Census Bureau data. That’s roughly double the population of New York.

Estimates of people experiencing homelessness

  • California — 171,521 people
  • New York — 74,178 people
  • Florida — 25,959 people
  • Washington — 25,211 people

As for which areas have the most homelessness, Los Angeles topped the list. Five other California cities also had significant homeless populations. Three cities were in the Bay Area, where housing costs are among the highest in the nation: the median rent cost in San Jose is $3,200, and the median cost of a house in San Francisco County is $1.3 million.

United States homelessness in 2022

City/CountyHomeless Population 2022
Los Angeles City & County65,111 people
New York City61,840 people
Seattle/King County13,368 people
San Jose/Santa Clara City & County10,028 people
Oakland, Berkeley/Alameda County9,747 people
Sacramento City & County9,278 people
Phoenix, Mesa/Maricopa County9,026 people
San Diego City and County8,427 people
San Francisco7,754 people
Metropolitan Denver6,884 people
(Data courtesy of Department of Housing and Urban Development, chart courtesy of USA Facts)

Though California is the state with the highest homeless population, the District of Columbia has a higher rate per person. The District struggles with some of the same challenges that California does, including high housing costs

Homeless rates per capita (Photo courtesy of USA Facts)

The report also lays out some of the different ways that people experience homeless in various localities. For example, more than half of those who are experiencing homelessness in California do so with no shelter at all. This is especially true in the South Bay city of San Jose, where 77% of homeless people report they do not have adequate shelter from the elements. In New York, only 6% of homeless people reported they had no shelter.

A person with an umbrella walks past a homeless person at Times Square during a rainy day in New York City. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

The usually temperate climate seen in California may be a reason why more people are able to withstand living without adequate shelter in the state. However, the storms battering California over the past three months have brought new challenges to local homeless populations.

When the parade of storms started earlier this year, several counties across the Bay Area opened shelters for people experiencing homeless to keep them out of the cold. The County of Los Angeles responded similarly in February when temperatures dipped, and officials kept several shelters open as part of the county’s Winter Shelter Program.

The impacts of homelessness in California cannot be missed. A drive through the streets of Los Angeles reveals tents lining sidewalks and countless vehicles transformed into shelter for entire families. Skid Row, an area in the heart of Los Angeles, is home to over 4,000 homeless people. The nearly half-square mile has had makeshift shelters in place for years.

A homeless encampment lines a street in Skid Row on December 14, 2022 in Los Angeles (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Los Angeles isn’t the only city in California navigating large homeless populations. The number of people experiencing homelessness is a frequent criticism of the City of San Francisco. According to a 2022 data from the City of San Francisco, more than 7,700 people were experiencing homelessness in the city. San Francisco recently passed new laws targeting loitering on sidewalks on city streets, but late last year a judge barred the city from enforcing the laws.

The judge’s order halting enforcement does not solve the challenges that arise from a growing homeless population in a city center so close to businesses and homes. In January, an art gallery owner in San Francisco was filmed spraying a homeless woman with a hose while she was on the sidewalk. He later said he had asked the woman to move several times before he took the matter into his own hands and began hosing her down. He was arrested for the incident.

The HUD clarifies that there is no universal methodology for collecting the data on homeless populations, as several methods have been approved. As a result, there may be some variations in counts and estimates of the homeless folks in different communities.