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Hidden Homelessness

What is Hidden Homelessness?

Hidden homelessness is defined by those who couch-surf with friends or family without immediate prospects for permanent housing. Most do not access homeless support services, so they are not included in national statistics.


Key Takeaways

  • Hidden homelessness is often unreported

  • The hidden homeless live without certainty of permanent housing

  • There are many causes of hidden homelessness


Understanding Hidden Homelessness

According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USCH), “On a single night in 2020, roughly 580,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. Six in ten (61%) were staying in sheltered locations—emergency shelters or transitional housing programs—and nearly four in ten (39%) were in unsheltered locations such as on the street, in abandoned buildings, or other places not suitable for human habitation.”


The hidden homeless population isn’t apparent and often unreported. The hidden homeless are also classified as “transitional homelessness.” They are considered “hidden” because, despite their needs, they do not access homeless services and support. Due to this, it is extremely difficult to account for the number of hidden homeless.


The members of the hidden homeless community live without certainty of permanent housing. This is because either there is none available in their price range, they need managed medical care, or they do not have personal support networks, capital, resources, etc.


More often, the hidden homeless are young people that have a sudden life-changing or catastrophic event that causes homelessness. Those events include mental illness, substance abuse, divorce, job loss, domestic abuse, a medical condition, etc.


Some do have a job but cannot afford rent and/or utilities.


Some are near-homeless after an eviction or crises that can occur with roommates.


Others may stay in a campground, car, or a public place, but these options are not adequate long-term housing solutions.


Related Terms


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