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How the homeless population in every state has changed over the past 10 years

Business Insider logo Business Insider 11/19/2018 Mark Abadi

Editor's note: This November, Microsoft News is putting a focus on Poverty in America with a 2-week series examining the root causes of poverty, what poverty really means to the many different kinds of people affected, and what we can do to contribute to the most meaningful solutions. We teamed up with some of our most trusted news partners to bring you custom content and highlight quality journalism that helps us understand these issues. We hope you’ll join us in supporting the organizations that are helping Americans in poverty with both their immediate needs and long-term pathways to more stable and prosperous lives.

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  • The homeless population in the United States went down 14.4% from 2007 to 2017, according to data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • The change was more drastic in some states: Michigan led the nation by decreasing its homeless population by 68%.
  • Meanwhile, North Dakota's homeless population increased over the same time period by 71.2%.

There are more than 550,000 homeless people in the US - a solid .17% of the entire US population.

But believe it or not, the homeless situation was much worse 10 years ago.

According to statistics from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the US homeless population has decreased 14.4% between 2007 and 2017. In 2007, there were 647,258 homeless Americans, compared to the 553,742 there are today.

The change in the homeless population is especially pronounced in some states. Michigan led the nation by decreasing its homeless population by 68% between 2007 and 2017. New Jersey and Kentucky also both managed to post decreases of more than 50% over that time period.

On the other end of the spectrum, there were 14 states (and Washington, DC) that saw their homeless populations rise from 2007 to 2017. North Dakota fared worse than any other state, with a rise in homelessness of 71.2%. South Dakota and Wyoming both also posted increases of more than 60%.

Read more: I spent the weekend with a homeless community in New York to see what it's really like to live on the streets

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Note that the numbers only reflect the change in each state's homeless population, not the homeless population itself. If you're looking for the state with the most homeless people, it's California, with more than 134,000.

Meanwhile, the state with the highest percentage of homeless people is Hawaii, where homeless people comprise .5% of the state population. Washington, DC, fares even worse - more than 1% of residents are homeless in the nation's capital. 

A homeless woman begs for money on the street on May 19, 2015. © George Rose/Getty Images A homeless woman begs for money on the street on May 19, 2015.
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