GLOBAL HOMELESSNESS STATISTICS
To help our supporters better understand this global problem, we have sought to compile the latest available statistics on the challenges faced by people around the globe.
The last time a global survey was attempted – by the United Nations in 2005 – an estimated 100 million people were homeless worldwide. As many as 1.6 billion people lacked adequate housing (Habitat, 2015).
Getting an accurate picture of global homelessness is extremely challenging. Definitions of homelessness vary from country to country. Census data is typically collected based on household and, while most census data takes into account those living in shelters and receiving government aid, census takers struggle to count the “hidden homeless” – those who may be residing in inadequate settlements such as slums, squatting in structures not intended for housing, couch surfing with friends and family, and those who relocate frequently.
Approximately 45% of the country’s 20 million population live below the poverty line. Women, boys and girls aged 6-59 months and the elderly are the most affected by persistent food and nutrition insecurity, especially in rural areas. (World Food Programme, 2018)
95% of the population is concentrated in a narrow strip of fertile land along the Nile River, which represents only about 5% of Egypt’s land area.
27.8% of the population live below the poverty line. (CIA, 2019)
Ghana has an urban population of 14 million, 5.5 million of which live in slums (Africa Research Institute, 2016).
Households are often overcrowded; on average there are between 10 and 20 people sharing a room (Habitat, 2016).
In 2018, 66,000 people were displaced due to natural disasters and violence (Internal Displacement, 2019).
The housing deficit is estimated at 40,000 units per year, and urbanisation keeps worsening the problem (Habitat, 2019). In 2018 there were 3,900 people displaced by violence and natural disasters (Internal Displacement, 2019).
56% of the population were reported to be living in slums in 2015 (World Bank, 2015).
In 2016, 50.9% of the population lived below the national poverty line (World Bank, 2019).
In the capital Monrovia, 90% of the population are at risk from sea and river flooding, and two thirds of Monrovians live in unplanned and slum communities (Open DRI, 2018).
People living in rural areas make up 75% of the poor population (Relief Web, 2017).
Malawi’s national poverty rate has risen from 50.7% in 2010 to 51.5% in 2016 (World Bank, 2017). In a country of 18.6 million people, there are around 1.5 million orphans and vulnerable children (Habitat, 2019).
In 2019, Cyclone Idai left roughly 90,000 people displaced as a result of the devastation (Independent IE, 2019).
In 2017 the poverty rate was 42.7%, with 90% of poor people living in rural areas (World Bank, 2019). In urban areas, the number of people living in slums continues to rise due to rapid urbanisation (The Atlantic, 2018).
In 2018, 126,000 people were displaced due to conflict (Internal Displacement, 2019).
There are an estimated 24.4 million homeless people in Nigeria. This is a consequence of many factors, including rapid urbanisation poverty (UNHCR, 2007), and actions by Boko Haram. In 2018 613,000 people were displaced due to natural disasters, and a further 541,000 due to violence and conflict (Internal Displacement, 2019).
70% of Lagos’ population live in informal housing, and many face homelessness due to the authorities’ attempts to curb the capital’s rapid growth (CBC, 2017).
The main causes of homelessness in South Africa stem from a significant housing shortage, 28% unemployment, and urbanization (CIA, 2017). As of 2015 there are 200,000 homeless people living on the street alone and massive inequality is rampant, with roughly 79% of the population under the poverty line (DW, 2019).
Between 2007 and 2016, the country saw a reduction in poverty rate. The number of those living below the poverty, however, has stayed at around 13 million due to high population growth (World Bank, 2019).
There is estimated to be a 3 million unit housing deficit in the country, and income levels of most households are significantly low. 90 percent of the population can afford less than $45 on housing per month (Habitat for Humanity).
2017 estimates state that 47% of Togo’s population live in poverty (World Bank, 2019). According to AJDD, about 100,000 people are homeless in Togo, half of them residing in Lomé solely. Annually, there are 200 new cases of children living on the street in the capital Lomé alone (Harambee Africa, 2019).
51% of the urban population live in slum housing (UNMDG, 2019).
Due to rapid urbanisation and poverty, Zambia is facing a serious shortage of housing. UN Habitat estimates that around 70% of the urban population live in informal settlements. About half a million young children live on the streets (SOS Children’s Villages).
More than 72% of Zimbabweans live below the poverty line (CIA World Factbook, 2012), and 62% of the households have also been deemed poor (UN, 2011). The country’s unemployment rate was estimated a 11.3% in 2014, this however, is believed to be a huge underestimation, since the country’s conditions prevent from accurate data gathering.
The national housing shortage is estimated at more than 1 million, with more than 1.2 million people on the government’s national housing waiting list.
ASIA AND OCEANIA
According to AHURI, there were 116,427 people experiencing homelessness in Australia as of August 2016. This is an increase of 13.7% since 2011. On any given night, one in 200 people in Australia are homeless (Homelessness Australia, 2017).
For different age groups, the biggest number increase in homelessness between 2011 and 2016 is for people aged 25–34, with an increase of 5,813 people (AHURI, 2018).
Cambodia’s seven largest urban centres are home to nearly 2,700 homeless adolescents who face numerous health and education-related obstacles (The Phnom Penh Post, 2017).
Cambodia is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, with regular monsoon flooding in the Mekong and Tonle Sap basin and localised droughts in the plains region. Climate-related hazards have a major impact on the livelihoods of Cambodians already living on the brink of poverty, and an estimated loss of just US$ 0.30 in income per person would double the country’s poverty rate (World Food Programme, 2019).
More than 200,000 of Hong Kong’s population live in “coffin homes”; cupboard-sized subdivided apartment units (The Atlantic, 2017; SCMP, 2016). About 44.7% of the population lives in subsidised housing (THB, 2017).
In 2017, community organisers and academics put the number of rough sleepers at 1,614, almost double the official government number of 874. This is a 14% increase from the previous year’s number of 1,414 (SCMP, 2017).
In 2017, government authorities demolished 53,700 homes, evicting 260,000 people for reasons such as slum-free ‘city beautification’ projects, despite the government’s ‘Housing for All-2022’ scheme (HLRN, 2018).
Nearly 2.9 million people were displaced through natural disasters and violence in 2018 (Internal Displacement, 2019).
There are approximately 3 million homeless people in Indonesia (Youth Exchange).
Indonesia is prone to volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters. Coupled with rapid urbanisation leaves millions of people vulnerable to losing their homes. In 2018, there were 857,500 newly displaced people due to natural disasters and violence (Internal Displacement, 2019).
Roughly 25 million families live in urban slums, along railway tracks, riverbanks and streets (Habitat, 2019).
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel estimate the number of homeless people to be around 25,000. However, the number of people helped by the country’s social services is less than 10% of that number, due to their stringent criteria (Times of Israel, 2018).
At least 610 homeless people who the authorities were aware of have died on the street in the last 15 years (Haaretz, 2018).
Official Japanese government data shows the number of homeless people to be at 4,977, but non-profits state the actual number could be twice or three times as much (Japan Times, 2018). From 2016-2017 there were 1,412 people sleeping on the streets of Tokyo alone (ARCH, 2017).
The Tokyo government released a survey in 2018 stating the number of “internet café refugees” to be at 4,000 (Japan Times, 2018).
146,000 people were displaced due to natural disasters in 2018 (Internal Displacement, 2018).
Rural families often move to informal settlements on the fringes of Bishkek and other major cities. About 70% of the 6.2 million people in Kyrgyzstan live in substandard housing, and it is not uncommon for three familial generations to be crowded into one room (Habitat).
80% of children living on the street are a result of internal migration (Humanium).
In January 2018, Bishkek was hit by a severe cold snap, with temperatures dropping to -30 C. At least 15 homeless people died in just one month (Eurasianet, 2018).
There around 3,500 people living on the streets in Bishkek alone (IWPR, 2016).
More than 200 million people live in Pakistan (CIA, 2016); 35% of the population live under the poverty line (Daily Times, 2018). It is estimated that there are roughly 20 million people lacking adequate housing, with the majority living in slums and other forms of temporary housing (Al Arabiya, 2018).
Poverty is rampant in Pakistan, with 60% of the population, mostly women and children, struggling to find suitable nutrition (Borgen Project, 2018).
A fifth of the population lives below the national poverty line (CIA, 2017). There are around 4.5 million homeless Filipinos with 3 million in Manila, possibly the most in any city in the world (Reuters, 2018).
There are an estimated 250,000 Filipino children living on the street (New Mandala, 2016)
3.8 million Filipinos were displaced due to natural disasters in 2018, with a further 188,000 because of violence (Internal Displacement, 2018).
The South Korean government classified over 11,000 people nationwide as homeless in 2017, with 1,520 living on the street, 9,330 living in nursing and rehabilitation facilities, and 493 in temporary facilities (Korea Bizwire, 2017).
14.4% of South Koreans, roughly 7.2 million people, live vulnerably below the poverty line (CIA, 2016).
According to country’s Social Ministry, there were 15,090 people registered as homeless in Austria as of 2016. This is up from 12,050 in 2014. This number does not include rough sleepers who are not registered. Around 70% of all people experiencing homelessness live in Vienna.
There is also a major crisis in refugee accommodation currently in Austria. In 2015, approximately 85,000 refugees asked for protection. In 2016, 22,000 asylum seekers were still being housed in the Federal Care Scheme. Statistics show that 80% of refugees leaving the Federal Care Scheme (Bundesbetreuung) are at risk of ending up homeless, according to FEANTSA, 2017.
From one count in 2016, there were 3,386 people experiencing homelessness in Brussels. This is a 96% increase since 2008.
In Flanders in 2014, there were 764 in winter emergency accommodation, 4,694 houseless people including 1,675 children, and 599 people threatened with eviction counted during a one month survey.
In Wallonia, 5,638 people used the emergency accommodation scheme in 2016. (FEANTSA, 2019, p.98)
Over 2.2 million people were displaced during and after the Bosnian War, making it the most devastating conflict in Europe since the end of World War II. As a result of the war, approximately 99,000 were still living in displacement in 2017 (IDMC, 2018).
16.9% of the population live on or below the poverty line (World Bank, 2017).
The unemployment rate as of 2017 was 20.5% (CIA, 2019).
In September 2013, 1,370 people were registered as homeless, but the real number is likely much higher since this only accounts for people with government-issued IDs who have signed up in those facilities. The most vulnerable people at risk of homelessness are refugees, the Roma minority, elderly, and young people out of foster homes. (Borgen Project, 2019).
More than 40 per cent of Bulgarians are at risk of poverty and social exclusion (Irish Times, 2018). The population living below the poverty line is currently 23.4% (CIA World Factbook, 2019). Currently 12.9% of people suffer from severe housing deprivation (FEANTSA, 2019).
According to the Croatian Network for the Homeless, there are more than 2,000 homeless people in Croatia, half of them located in Zagreb.
FEANTSA – European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless – uses a system called ETHOS – European Typology of Homelessness and housing exclusion – but this is not used in Croatia. If it were, the figure would be closer to 5,000 (Balkan Insight, 2018).
It’s estimated, as of 2017, that there are almost 119,000 people at risk of housing loss in the Czech Republic. The estimates for people actually living without a home is 68,500 – 74.4% are male, 23.6% are female (FEANTSA).
Of this figure, 11.9% are under 18 and 10.3% over 65. FEANTSA conclude that a total of 187,500 people have experienced housing exclusion in the Czech Republic.
Recent data shows an increase in homeless people by 1,600 since 2009. However, the age group that had the most significant rise in homelessness is among 18 to 29-year-olds, due to economic instability and a weak housing market (CPH Post, 2018). In 2017, at least 39 under-18s were found to be homeless, five without their parents (Project Outside, 2017).
The latest count marked 6,635 homeless people in Denmark (Hus Forbi, 2017).
There has been a recent trend of rising homelessness in England. Over the 2016/17 period, 59,110 people were considered homeless, this is a 9% increase over the 2014/15 numbers. Homelessness among vulnerable groups has also increased by 75% since 2010 (Shelter, 2019).
On any given night, there are 4,000 people sleeping rough (Shelter, 2019).
Households in temporary accommodation has risen from 48,330 in 2011 to 78,170 in 2017 (EOH, 2018).
57% of private renters say they struggle to cover housing costs (Shelter, 2019).
In 2017, there were 7,112 homeless people in Finland, with 411 sleeping rough, 355 in hostels, 516 in institutions, and 5,503 living with family or friends (FEANTSA, 2017).
54% of homeless families are immigrants (FEANTSA, 2017). In 2015, the number of native long-term homeless decreased by 8%, but the number of long-term homeless immigrants had increased 22% (FEANTSA, 2017).
In 2012, around 103,000 adults in French cities used some form of emergency accommodation or soup kitchen. This number includes 30,000 children. Altogether, 141,500 people were homeless in France in 2012, which is almost a 50% increase from 2001 (INSEE, 2012).
It is estimated that there were 860,000 homeless people in Germany, which marked a 150% increase in only two years due to the inclusion of refugees in the estimates. Excluding refugees the number of homeless people sits at 335,000 to 420,000 (EOH, 2017).
More than 15% of the people in assistance programs for homelessness were foreigners (Spiegel, 2013).
Around 50% of poor households spend more than 40% of their disposable income on housing (EOH, 2017).
There is no official strategy for gathering information on homelessness in Greece. The UN Human Rights Council reports 21,216 people as homeless (FEANTSA, 2017).
Currently 34.8% of the population, 3.7 million people, are considered to be living below the poverty line (Kathimerini, 2018). The country also has the highest level of unemployment in Europe at 18.5% (Eurostat, 2019) .
Since the start of the financial crisis evictions have risen by nearly 70%. These are due to court decisions or voluntary abandonments caused by rising housing debts (FEANTSA, 2017).
A yearly NGO-led survey recorded 10,206 homeless people in Hungary, with 3,422 sleeping on the street and 6,784 in hostels. However, this survey only collects data on people connected to shelters or volunteer teams, so the number could be much higher (FEANTSA, 2017).
Between 2006 and 2010, 131 homeless people died of cold or exposure in the capital. In 2016, the UN considered 46.6% of Hungarians were considered impoverished, living on less than US$300 a month (Borgen Project, 2017).
As of January 2018, 9,104 people were accessing homeless accommodation, a 59% increase in just two years (FEANTSA, 2018).
There are 10,378 homeless people in Ireland as of March 2019, with an increase of 243% of homeless families since 2015 (Focus Ireland, 2019).
In Spring of 2019 there were 128 people found sleeping on Dublin streets (Focus Ireland, 2019).
During the economic crisis, the rate of homelessness tripled in Italy. In 2016 there were 50,724 homeless people, an increase of 3,000 since 2011 (FEANTSA, 2017).
Poverty in Italy was at its highest in ten years in 2017, with 5.1 million people living in ‘absolute poverty’ (Reuters, 2017).
40% of homeless people have been living on the streets for more than 4 years (FEANTSA, 2017).
Homelessness has been on the rise in Lithuania. Data shows that homelessness has been steadily rising over the last decade (European Commission, 2018). There were 4,827 homeless people recorded in 2015, with 2,487 living in homeless shelters and 2,340 living in mother and children crisis centres. From 2007 – 2015 homelessness rose by 32% (FEANTSA, 2016).
From 2009 – 2015 The number of homeless people in the Netherlands grown by 13,000 to 31,000, an increase of 74% (NL Times, 2016). 40% of this population were concentrated in the major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague, and Utrecht (FEANTSA, 2019).
The Netherlands is one of the two top worst countries for housing inequality in Europe (EOH, 2016).
Over the 2015/16 period 18,600 households presented themselves as homeless, with well over half – 11,200 – judged as passing all four tests for homelessness, a 13% increase since 2012/13 (NI Dep for Communities, 2018).
An average of 13 homeless people per month had their housing applications closed due to death from October 2017 to August 2018 (The Detail, 2018).
The Polish government estimated there were around 33,408 homeless people in February 2017, however this data is considered incorrect and the real number may be much higher (FEANTSA, 2019).
In 2017 around 25% of the homeless population had been in the same situation for over 10 years, meaning the average length of homeless durations is on the rise (FEANTSA, 2019).
There is no national homelessness data collection strategy in Romania. The only study was conducted in 2004, when the homeless population was estimated 14,000 to 15,000 people (FEANTSA, 2012). In Bucharest alone, there were approximately 6,000 homeless people, including 1,000 children (Deutsche Welle, 2013).
Russia’s governmental statistics agency Rosstad has not collected any numbers on homeless people since 2010. The official number from that period – 64,000 – is thought to be far too low, and it is estimated that the real number is roughly 5 million (Euromaidan Press, 2017).
From 2017-2018, out of 34,972 applications to local authorities, 28,792 households were assessed as homeless. The number of homeless applications has increased for the first time in nine years (Shelter Scotland, 2019).
In 2016-2017, people under 24 represented 27% of those assessed as homeless (Scottish Government, 2017).
Recent reports put the number of homeless people at around 4,000, but this number is thought to be higher as many hide their situation (Slovenia Times, 2016). This could be due to government policy that lists begging and use of public space for sleeping as punishable offences (FEANTSA, 2012).
Homelessness services are not a priority and are less widespread compared to other European countries (EOH, 2018).
A Swedish national mapping of homelessness took place over one week in 2017, finding 33,250 people homeless, 18% of whom were described as “acutely homeless” (National Board of Health and Welfare, 2018).
Roughly 15% of Sweden’s population, 1.5 million, lives below the poverty line, meaning they lack the level of income to meet minimum living conditions (CIA, 2019).
Although less visible, homelessness does exist. 7% of permanent residents live in poverty in terms of income (BFS, 2015). The poverty rate of foreigners from non-European countries is significantly higher at 11.7% (BFS, 2015).
In April 2019 Zurich-based homeless shelter Pastor Sieber Emergency Sleeping Centre reported its second highest winter occupancy since its opening in 2002, with 4,801 overnight stays (Diakone Schweiz, 2019).
Unemployment rate in Ukraine is estimated at 9.2% (CIA World Factbook, 2017), and an estimated 3.8% of the population is living below the poverty line, more than 1.5 million people. Since the conflict in Donbas in the eastern region of Ukraine in 2014, 2.7 million persons have been displaced and over 4 million directly affected by continuing hostilities (World Bank, 2018).
In 2017/18, 11,277 households were assessed as homeless and owed a duty to help secure accommodation. In 2017-18, 9,072 households were threatened with homelessness within 56 days.
At the end of March 2018, there were 2,052 households in temporary accommodation. 801 households were families with children (Welsh Government, 2017/18).
NORTH / CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
It is estimated that more than 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness in a year, with more than 35,000 Canadians homeless on any given night. Between 13,000 and 33,000 Canadians are chronically homeless. Although there has been a decline in the use of shelters in the last 10 years, the number of seniors (65+) has increased (Homeless Hub, 2016).
Although indigenous people make up 4.3% of the Canadian population, they comprise 28-34% of the shelter population (Homeless Hub, 2016).
75% of homeless people in Canada struggle with mental illness (Fred Victor, 2019).
The municipality of San José estimates that more than 1,800 people are homeless. According to the official statistics, around 5,300 families lived in slums in 2009. In 2009, the earthquake left many families homeless and natural disasters pose a serious threat in terms of losing home (Habitat Costa Rica, 2010; The Tico Times, 2014).
Grenada’s location leaves it highly vulnerable to natural disasters like hurricanes. In 2004 Hurricane Ivan damaged 80% of the homes and left approximately 60,000 people (more than half of the population) homeless (Relief Web, 2009).
In 2014 it was estimated that 59.3% of the population were living under the poverty line (CIA World Factbook).
The housing deficit in Guatemala exceeds 1.6 million households, and the basic needs for services like drinkable water, sanitation and electricity in rural areas is high (Habitat).
Displacements due to natural disasters and violence are significant, with 27,000 being displaced by natural disasters in 2018. Although there is a lack of data, it is thought that the main cause of population displacement is due to gang violence and development (Internal Displacement, 2018).
People displaced by the 2010 earthquake and hurricanes in the following years still face the effects of being displaced from their homes (Internal Displacement, 2019). Jalousie, one of Haiti’s biggest slums, has a conservative estimate of 80,000 residents, many of whom lost their houses after the 2010 earthquake (The Guardian, 2018).
58.5% of the population, 6 million people, live with less than US$1.23 per day (World Bank, 2012).
More than 60% of Honduras’ population live in poverty, and in rural areas 20% of people live in ‘extreme poverty’ (World Bank, 2018).
In 2016, the housing deficit was over 1 million units (Habitat).
In 2015, 27.5% of the urban population lived in slums (UN MDGIs).
17,000 people were displaced by natural disasters, 950 by violence, in 2018 (Internal Displacement).
Around 16 million people live in inadequate housing with dirt floors, tin roofs, and mud walls (Habitat, 2019). One third of the population of Mexico are adolescents and roughly half of these, 21 million, live in poverty (Humanium, 2017).
In Mexico City, an estimated 50% of people live in informal, low-income settlements. Ngos in 2012 estimated that between 15,000 and 30,000 people in Mexico City were living on the streets. (Housing Conference, University of Glasgow, 2009; Inter Press Service, 2012).
More than 553,700 people were homeless on a single night across the US, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (BBC, 2017).
More than 40 million people were living in poverty, and 18.5 million were living in deep poverty, with reported family income below one-half of the poverty threshold. (UNHR, 2017).
The implications of the great recession are still felt. An estimated 3.2 million jobs were eliminated, and 1.2 million homes foreclosed upon following during the financial crash between 2007-2009 (Portland State University, 2018).
There are no official sources for the number of homeless people in the capital, but local civic groups put the figure at 8,000 people, with 198,000 people in the city living in ‘extreme poverty’ (AP News, 2019).
Argentina has a housing deficit of 4 million units, in both quality and quantity of housing. In urban areas, 16% of houses lack drinkable water and 45% lack a sanitary sewer system (UN Habitat, 2016).
In a population of 210 million, it is estimated that more than 50 million Brazilians live in inadequate conditions (Habitat, 2017).
According to the Perseu Abramo Foundation, there were 101,854 people living on the streets in 2015 (FPAbramo, 2017).
Unemployment was at 12.8% as of 2017, which increased from 11.3% in 2016. The unemployment rate among people aged 15-24 is 30.2%. The population living below the poverty line is 4.2%, although approximately 4% of the population are below the ‘extreme’ poverty line (CIA, 2018).
In Rio de Janeiro, the Municipal Office of Social Assistance estimate there are 14,200 people homeless in the city. This marks a 150% increase in three years (Rio Times, 2017).
Colombia has been experiencing violent internal conflicts for more than 50 years. According to the World Food Programme, 7.5 million people have been displaced as a result.
Extreme poverty is still present, disproportionately affecting certain regions and types of population. Ethnic minorities in particular – including indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities – in former conflict zones are paying a heavy price for years of marginalisation. Coastal regions present the most severe deficiencies, with the Caribbean department of La Guajira reaching a peak of 90 percent of rural population with unsatisfied basic needs (World Food Programme).
Peru’s poverty rate is at 21.7% according to the World Bank. An estimated 375,000 Peruvians joined the ranks of the poor, which state statistics agency INEI defines as an individual surviving on less than 338 soles ($105) per month. An estimated 6.9 million Peruvians now live in poverty, 44% of whom are in rural Peru (Reuters, 2018).
During 2017, relief agencies estimated that 700,000 people in Peru were made homeless due to landslides and floods caused by unusually heavy rains (LATimes, 2017). There are more than 560,000 Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Peru (UNHCR, 2018).
In Venezuela 90% of the population live in poverty. A rate exacerbated by failed economic policies and a plunge in global oil prices (INE).
Since 2014 more than 3.4 million Venezuelans have left the country – one of the largest cases of forced displacement in the western hemisphere. On average, in 2018, 5,000 people left Venezuela every day according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the UN migration agency (IOM). An estimated 2.7 million Venezuelans are hosted in Latin America and Caribbean countries (IOM, 2019).