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Another Day In Paradise

America’s growing homeless crisis.

Photo by Jonathan Kho Ming Jun / Unsplash

Phil Collins's iconic 1989 song 'Another Day in Paradise' with over half a billion YouTube views, vividly paints the struggles homeless individuals face. The song is still relevant after 34 years and serves as a poignant reminder as Americans grapple with the pressing issue of homelessness, humanizing the growing crisis that peaked in 2023.

The TIPP Poll collates a list of about 20 issues facing the nation each month and asks Americans to pick what they think are the top 3 issues facing the country. Homelessness has gained importance over the past year.

For example, in the latest January poll of 1,401 Americans, the issue ranked sixth ahead of Climate change (16%), Healthcare (15%), Home affordability (13%), and Abortion (12%). Nearly one in five Americans (18%) ranked Homelessness among the top-3 issues facing the country. Along party lines, 18% of Democrats, 15% of Republicans, and 20% of independents share the concern.

Rising rents and the termination of pandemic-era protections are contributing to the crisis. The problem can be viewed as another unintended consequence of Bidenflation and the eleven rate hikes by the Fed aimed at curbing inflation, which have rendered housing unaffordable for many and triggered displacements.

Government data supports our survey results. For instance, the latest 2023 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated that 653,100 people experienced homelessness on a single night in 2023, marking a 12% increase of 70,650 individuals from 2022. HUD also noted that the 2023 count was the highest since they began tracking the situation in 2007.

Blue States Vs. Red States

Our analysis of the HUD data reveals several interesting insights. The study covered all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC). Democrats govern blue states, while Republicans govern red states.

The overall homelessness rate for the nation is 19.4 per 10,000 people. However, it spikes to 26.5 in blue states, nearly 2.5 times the rate of 10.8 in red states. This increase could be because Democratic states like New York and California, which tend to have large urban areas, attract homeless individuals. Further, policy differences and governing approaches may also play a role.

Below, we present the homelessness rate per 10,000 people for blue and red states.

Homelessness By Race

Minorities tend to be overrepresented among the homeless population. The HUD report found that 37% of homeless individuals are Black, significantly higher than 13% in the general U.S. population. Further, 50% of families experiencing homelessness identify as Black.

The report also showed that nearly one-third of people experiencing homelessness identified as Hispanic or Latino.

Relocation Camps

Makeshift shelters have spread beyond the West Coast and have become a nationwide issue. Despite significant spending, there has been little reduction in tents and homeless individuals.

Americans want their elected leaders to address the situation. In response to public concerns, some cities, including Portland, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, have dismantled makeshift shelters and relocated homeless individuals.

President Donald Trump recently advocated "tent cities" on inexpensive land. In a campaign video, he said 'hardworking, law-abiding citizens' were being sidelined and made to 'suffer for the whims of a deeply unwell few.'

However, homeless advocates argue that sweeps and relocation policies are cruel and wasteful, advocating for more affordable housing instead.

In a Daily Mail/TIPP Poll of 1,401 Americans taken in January, two-thirds (67%) favor building resettlement camps. That included:

  • 74% of Democrats,
  • 64% of Republicans,
  • 62% of independents,
  • 66% of conservatives,
  • 65% of moderates, and
  • 71% of liberals.

The poll also shows that younger people are more likely to support relocating the homeless, with support rates of 78% among ages 18–24, 79% among ages 25–44, 62% in the age 45–64 bracket, and 51% among the age 65+ group.

Over three-fourths (76%) of urban dwellers support relocation camps, compared to 64% for suburban and 61% for rural residents.

By race, 61% of Whites, 75% of Blacks, and 83% of Hispanics favor resettlement camps.

Lower-income groups are more likely to support it, with support rates at 72% among those earning under $30K, 69% in the $30K-$50K group, 67% in the $50K-$75K bracket, and 63% among those earning $75K or more.

Supreme Court

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Grants Pass, Oregon, could not enforce its anti-camping ordinances against homeless persons for the mere act of sleeping outside with rudimentary protection from the elements or for sleeping in their car at night when there was no other place in the city for them to go.

Grants Pass argued that this ruling hindered their response to public encampment issues, resulting in problems like crime, fires, diseases, and drug-related concerns.

The city has now appealed the federal court ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will determine whether laws penalizing homeless people for camping in public spaces are unconstitutional. This decision could have significant implications for how cities address homelessness in the future.