Raw Data: The Homeless Rate in Big Cities

The number of homeless rose to 59,000 in Los Angeles County this year. We don’t yet have estimates for all cities, but here’s how a selection of big cities did last year. Note that these are actually the homeless rates for the counties which contain each city (i.e., Phoenix is actually Maricopa County, Chicago is Cook County, etc.):

What surprises me is the huge difference across cities. In New York and Washington DC, nearly 1 percent of the population is homeless. In Chicago the number is 0.02 percent. That’s a difference of almost 50x. What kinds of policies can possibly account for such a vast disparity? Or is it mostly a statistical artifact of how the counts are conducted in each city? Or the inevitable result of high homeless rates following high housing prices?

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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