FACT CHECK: Are There More Than 633,000 Homeless People And 13.9 Million Vacant Homes In The US?
An image shared on Facebook claims that there are more than 633,000 homeless people and more than 13.9 million vacant homes in America.
The most recent data from the National Alliance to End Homelessness puts the number of homeless people at 552,830. There are more than 17 million vacant homes across the U.S., according to the Census Bureau.
“Over 633k homeless in US, over 13.9 million vacant homes, 22 homes available per person, capitalism must end,” reads the caption. It cites the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) as the source of its figures.
While it’s accurate to say there are more vacant homes than homeless people in the U.S., the statistics cited in the image aren’t correct. (RELATED: Is Homelessness Up Nearly 50 Percent In Los Angeles Since 2013?)
Tom Murphy, director of communications for NAEH, told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an email that the figure for homelessness doesn’t reflect the most recent data, saying, “The last time the numbers were in that range was 2010, when the count was 637,077. The most recent federal data is for 2018, when the count was at 552,830.”
In 2018, approximately 65 percent of all homeless people, or 358,363 individuals, were sheltered in some capacity, while the remaining 194,467 homeless people were unsheltered, according to NAEH. (The number of homeless people has fluctuated in recent years but has generally trended downward over the past decade.)
The Census Bureau tracks the number of vacant homes in the U.S. on a quarterly basis and, as of October 2019, the number stands at about 17 million. That’s roughly 3.1 million more than the meme suggests. The last time the number of vacant homes was 13.9 million was in 2001, according to the Federal Reserve of St. Louis.
Based on currently available numbers, there are about 31 vacant housing units for every homeless person in the U.S. (RELATED: Did Ben Carson Call Homelessness ‘A Gift From Heaven’?)
Some government programs have been instituted to utilize vacant properties to help house homeless people. For instance, the Title V program of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act “enables eligible organizations to use unutilized, underutilized, excess, or surplus federal properties to assist persons experiencing homelessness,” according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website.
Many of the vacant housing units on the market are homes that have been foreclosed and are now owned by banks, according to Business Insider.
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