Homelessness by the Numbers: 2017 Boston & Beyond

Homelessness by the Numbers

2017 Boston & Beyond 

by Rudy Mitchell, Senior Researcher

For the first time since 2010, US homelessness went up slightly in 2017. A one-night count in January 2017, found 553,742 people across the country living outside or in shelters.

To reduce homelessness among our fellow Massachusetts residents, we must have a clear picture of who is currently affected by homelessness. If we understand the Who? of homelessness, we are one step towards understanding the Why? and the How is this best addressed?

Who is currently experiencing homelessness in our local area? The numbers below might surprise you—they may not represent who first comes to mind when you hear the word 'homeless'. 



17,565 people

Total number of people experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts in January 2017

21,112 students

Number of students identified and served by Massachusetts public schools during the 2016-2017 school year who had experienced homelessness in the past year.

3,580 families

Number of families with children, including pregnant women, in Massachusetts’ Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter program in September 2017. About 51 of these families were living in motels as of August 31.



2,379 single adults, 3800 people in families

6179 people were found to be experiencing homelessness in the 2017 City of Boston Homeless Census. This includes 2,379 single adults and 3,800 people in 1,239 families.


Boston Homelessness Winter Trends

Data from City of Boston Annual Homeless Census Reports (point-in-time counts).

Cambridge, MA

463 people in shelters, 67 people sleeping on the street

530 people were counted in the 2017 Census of the homeless population in Cambridge, comprising 135 people in families, and 395 single individuals. This included 67 unsheltered people (on the streets).


Take Action to End Homelessness

"We believe that better cooperation amongst churches and community organizations could better serve the current need," writes Rev. Cynthia Hymes-Bell of EGC's Starlight Ministry

"Our vision is that every church and Christian group in Greater Boston who wants to engage people affected by homelessness will be equipped to do so wisely." 

Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent & End Homelessness

Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent & End Homelessness