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16th July
written by naehblog

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.


  1. Anonymous

    Yesterday, (Sunday), I took a Tour of "Love Park" in Philadelphia, PA with a "friend" of mine who is currently homeless. He lost his job, then his apartment and now, he's losing his hope…He showed me so much that I'd had my eyes closed to. There are SO MANY homeless people in that park area alone. They try to blend in so that no one will know. (This was during daylight hours). He assures me the numbers quadruple (at least) after dark!! Yes, there are the "expected" addicts and runaways, but there are WHOLE FAMILIES, too, complete with young children!! There are disheartened, elderly, veterans! The realization, for me, causes great sadness…I don't know what to do! What can WE do?? He says the shelters are deplorable. Dirty, unsafe. So much so that he (and many others) resort to sleeping outdoors; risking their very lives to thugs and opportunists!! He applies for jobs daily. I believe him. I KNOW THIS MAN! He went to work faithfully! This economy makes things difficult, to say the least. All I know is we all REALLY are 2-3 paychecks away from this SAME unfortunate circumstance, and I, for one, want to know what WE can do about it? As I see it, we 1st have to SEE them. (I had really turned a blind eye). Then we have to ACKNOWLEDGE them. AND, we have to LISTEN to them and their stories as to how they came to be homeless. In the 2-3 hours I spent with my friend, I took him to lunch, gave him bottled water, and a couple of dollars, but most importantly, I LISTENED to him!! He told me stories about every other person (it seemed) that walked by the restaurant. Homeless people, disguised as everyday folk. AMAZING!!! He assures me he'll be OK. He says food is NOT a problem. They get food and water readily. They even get toiletries and some essentials. HOUSING IS THE ISSUE!! Somewhere to LIVE. There are SO MANY abandoned/empty houses in Philadelphia. How can it be better to force a family out of their home, onto the streets, just so that the house can sit and rot? None of this is making sense to me. Somehow I just had to get this out…I am NOT finished. I WILL try, in my own small way, to help the homeless. Why? Because, there but for the grace of God, go I…

  2. Anonymous

    Well, I'm homeless in a rural area and food is a problem. I'm hungry. When I get back on my feet, I'm going to hand every homeless person I see a restaurant gift card or some money.

    I eat five meals a week at a soup kitchen place. That's it. I'm growing more and more weary by the day. Job? you might ask. "Get a job."
    Would you hire someone who had not showered for three days?

    I'm broke. I'm losing hope that my situation will turn around.