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Homelessness on Long Island

All communities across the United States complete what is called a "Point-In-Time" count. This report looks at a snapshot at one moment in time, how many people are experiencing homelessness; specifically how many families, adults, youth and Veterans are living on the street, living in shelter, and living in transitional housing. 

Total Number of People Experiencing Homelessness at a Given Time on Long Island in recent time:

2016: 3960 (highest in the last decade)

2017: 3937

2018: 3868

2019: 3843

2020: 3807

2021: 3050 (lowest in the last decade)

2022: Preliminary report is completed, must be reviewed and confirmed by HUD before publication

Homelessness on Long Island has decreased every year in recent time. This has mostly been the result of a local and national trend of a decrease in families experiencing homelessness.



Within recent time, there had been as many as 850 families experiencing homelessness at any time. In the most recent count, the number of families was 536. Almost 100% of families with children that experience homeless on LI are living in shelters. Shelters on Long Island are typically houses is residential communities where each family has their own room and there is shared living space such as bathrooms, kitchens, and other common areas. There are also a few large converted hotels and motels where families reside in temporarily as shelter. In Nassau County, motel placements are used as shelter overflow. Families in motels remain homeless, on average, more than 2.5xs as long as families in shelters with case management. Families make up the greatest number of total people experiencing homelessness (counting all adults and children in each household). Families that identify as Black or African American are significantly more like to enter homelessness, remain homeless longer, and return to homelessness. About 15% of families identify as Hispanic. Housing vouchers and rental assistance programs such as rapid rehousing have been the most effective in exiting families out of homelessness. Permanent supportive housing for families is extremely scarce. 

Single Adults:

Within recent time, homelessness amongst single adults has remained the same or increased. This is largely the result of increases in aging adults entering the homeless system, adults entering homelessness directly from jails or prisons, and adult couples/other multi-adult households. There have also been increases in street homeless amongst single adults, largely the result of single adults not being eligible for, or not accessing shelter through DSS. Whereas in the past, over 80% of single adults were homeless in shelters, now the percentage is less than 60%, with sharp increases to the number of people on the street as opposed to shelter. In Suffolk County, as many as 1 in 3 single adults in living outside and not in shelter. Single adults that are not US citizens also make up a significant percentage of the street homeless population and are not eligible for any year-round shelter. Most people on the street are living in tents in the woods (either alone or in encampment groups), at train stations, behind stores or in abandoned buildings or homes, or in their vehicles. Single adults that are homeless inside, all live in shelters in Suffolk County. These are houses in residential areas with shared bedrooms and shared common spaces. In Nassau County, about half of the single adults placed through DSS are in shelters and the other half are in motels. Single adults in motels remain homeless, on average, more than 4xs as long as single adults in shelter and are amongst the hardest to place into permanent housing. More than 2 out of 3 long-term homeless single adults are either living unsheltered or in motels. Single adults make up the largest percentage of households on LI. About half of the homeless population of single adults identifies as White, slightly less than half identify as Black or African American, and about 8% of single adults identify as Hispanic, mostly those that are not US citizens living in groups unsheltered. Over 80% of single adults are males, with that percentage being higher for those living unsheltered. Most females reside in shelters, for males it is more split between street and shelter. Room rentals and permanent supportive housing have been the most effective ways to exit single adults of out homelessness. For single adults living on the street, permanent supportive housing with a housing first approach is often necessary for successful placements. 


Youth continue to make up a very small percentage of the overall homeless population on Long Island and have never made up more than 2% of the homeless population in recent time. This is mostly because youth present differently in the community when they face housing instability. It is much more common that youth are couch surfing and staying with family or friends, or as opposed to living on the street or in shelter, where most youth reside. Less than 1% of people engaged on the street by street outreach teams are youth. There are three small shelters for youth, and two transitional housing programs. The majority of youth identify as Black or African American and/or identify as part of the LGBT community.


In 2016, HUD and the VA, declared that LI had "effectively ended Veteran homelessness." This does not mean that there are no Veterans experiencing homelessness, or that no Veterans will become homeless in future, it means that the number of Veterans is very low and that there are enough local resources to quickly connect all Veterans to shelter and housing. Veteran homelessness makes up less than 3% of the overall homeless population. Most Veterans reside in VA transitional housing programs. Over 90% of homeless Veterans are in Suffolk County. The majority of homeless Veterans identify as White males.  

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