Many people call or write the National Coalition for the Homeless to ask about the number of homeless people in the United States. There is no easy answer to this question and, in fact, the
question itself is misleading. In most cases, homelessness is a temporary circumstance -- not a
permanent condition. A more appropriate measure of the magnitude of homelessness is the number of people who experience homelessness over time, not the number of "homeless people."
Studies of homelessness are complicated by problems of definitions and methodology. This fact
sheet describes definitions of homelessness, methodologies for counting homeless people, recent
estimates of homelessness, and estimates of the increase in homelessness over the past two
decades. Additional resources for further study are also provided