08 January 2015

England vs. U.S. in homelessness stats

Followed some bouncing links today and landed on this one. I was wondering how the numbers of homeless differ between the U.K. and the U.S. Some definitions to sort through, first. The U.K. counts a number of conditions as "homelessness," which includes couch-surfing and a status called "statutorily homeless," which is a category for people who have applied for government-provided housing. The term in the U.K. for the dire condition of sleeping on the street is "sleeping rough." On our part, in the U.S. we don't count applications for subsidized housing as a category of the homeless. And our term for sleeping rough is "living in unsheltered locations."

So on to the numbers. In Autumn, 2013, the U.K. government counted/estimated 2,414 individuals "sleeping rough" throughout England (PDF). (The URL says ".uk" but the document says "England.") This is out of a population (England-only) of 53.9 million.

In January, 2013, the U.S. government estimated 215,344 "living in unsheltered locations" throughout the country (PDF). And our population is 316.1 million.

So the population of the U.S. is about 5.8 times that of England -- but the number of sleeping rough doesn't scale up at the same rate. Food for thought: why doesn't England have 14,157 people sleeping on streets, in parks, under bridges?

Anyway, Code Blue in Philadelphia tonight. I think everyone knows to call 911 if you see someone needing assistance, particularly since Hub of Hope has been kicked out of Suburban Station.

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