17 U.S. Cities with the Fastest Growing Rates of Homelessness

Imagine a country where over 650,000 people have nowhere to call home. That’s the sobering reality in the United States, where on a single night in January 2023, more than half a million people were experiencing homelessness, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This number doesn’t include the millions more who teeter on the brink every year, who are just one missed paycheck or unexpected medical bill away from losing their roof. Get ready for some eye-opening statistics – this is a problem we can’t ignore.

San Francisco, California

Homeless Count (2022): Over 80,000 people experiencing homelessness.

Contributing Factors: Extremely high housing costs, pronounced income inequality, and a complicated approval process for new housing units.

Local Efforts: San Francisco dedicates substantial resources to homelessness initiatives, aiming to expand access to supportive housing with comprehensive services, although high living costs and bureaucratic hurdles persist.

New York City, New York

Homeless Count (2023): Over 64,000 people in the shelter system.

Contributing Factors: The high cost of living, the scarcity of affordable housing, and inadequate supportive services intensify the city’s homelessness issue.

Local Efforts: New York City manages an extensive network of homeless shelters and is actively working to expand permanent supportive housing while tackling mental health and substance abuse issues among the homeless population.

Los Angeles, California

Homeless Count (2023): Over 66,436 unhoused individuals.

Contributing Factors: Exorbitant housing costs, a dire shortage of affordable housing, and prevalent mental health and substance abuse issues.

Local Efforts: The Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority (LAHSA) leads with a focus on increasing access to emergency shelters, bridge housing, and permanent supportive housing, plus addressing mental health and addiction treatment.

Seattle, Washington

Homeless Count (2023): Over 13,000 people experiencing homelessness.

Contributing Factors: Escalating housing costs and limited mental health and addiction treatment services.

Local Efforts: The Seattle Housing Authority offers various affordable housing programs and rental assistance. The city is also enhancing navigation centers to connect people without homes with services and permanent housing.

Denver, Colorado

Homeless Count (2023): Over 14,000 people.

Contributing Factors: Denver’s economic growth attracts many new residents, exacerbating the affordable housing shortage and straining limited mental health care options.

Local Efforts: The city is investing in affordable housing development and rental assistance alongside programs that provide connections to mental health care and addiction treatment services.

San Jose, California

Homeless Count (2023): Over 10,000 people.

Contributing Factors: The Silicon Valley boom has led to skyrocketing living costs, a lack of affordable housing, and prevalent mental health challenges.

Local Efforts: Santa Clara County is pushing rapid rehousing programs and increasing the stock of affordable housing to help address these challenges.

Phoenix, Arizona

Homeless Count (2023): Over 8,000 people.

Contributing Factors: Rapid population growth has strained housing affordability, alongside a lack of affordable housing options and limited resources.

Local Efforts: Phoenix focuses on homelessness prevention, rapid rehousing, and the development of permanent supportive housing, aiming to offer a comprehensive approach to the crisis.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Homeless Count (2023): Over 6,800 individuals.

Contributing Factors: High housing costs, a shortage of affordable housing, and limited social services.

Local Efforts: Las Vegas, in collaboration with Clark County, is developing a comprehensive plan to increase affordable housing, provide rental assistance, and offer supportive services.

Miami, Florida

Homeless Count (2023): Over 5,500 individuals.

Contributing Factors: High living costs, scarcity of affordable housing, and significant income inequality.

Local Efforts: Miami-Dade County employs a multi-faceted approach, providing emergency shelter, rental assistance, and supportive housing programs.

Austin, Texas

Homeless Count (2023): Over 5,500 individuals.

Contributing Factors: Swift population growth is leading to rising housing costs and a scarcity of affordable housing, compounded by a lack of supportive services.

Local Efforts: Austin and Travis County collaborate on strategies to expand rental assistance programs, create supportive housing units, and address the underlying causes of homelessness.

Portland, Oregon

Homeless Count (2023): Over 5,200 people.

Contributing Factors: A limited supply of affordable housing and lack of access to mental health care, worsened by high poverty rates.

Local Efforts: Portland invests in affordable housing development and

renter assistance programs, with outreach and support services to assist the homeless in transitioning to stable housing.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Homeless Count (2022): Over 4,500 people.

Contributing Factors: High living costs, limited affordable housing, and a scarcity of resources.

Local Efforts: Honolulu is working to expand access to affordable housing and emergency shelters, along with providing job training and supportive services to aid transitions out of homelessness.

Washington, D.C.

Homeless Count (2023): Over 6,000 people.

Contributing Factors: High living costs, a lack of affordable housing, and limited support services.

Local Efforts: The D.C. Interagency Council on Homelessness leads efforts to provide emergency shelter, permanent supportive housing, and outreach programs.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Homeless Count (2022): Over 1,800 homeless students in Albuquerque Public Schools.

Contributing Factors: High poverty rates, a shortage of affordable housing, and prevalent domestic violence.

Local Efforts: Albuquerque’s Heading Home Coalition coordinates rapid rehousing assistance, supportive housing development, and street outreach to tackle homelessness.

Orlando, Florida

Homeless Count (2023): Over 2,500 people.

Contributing Factors: Rising housing costs, a shortage of affordable housing, and limited social safety net resources.

Local Efforts: The Central Florida Homeless Coalition is spearheading efforts to provide shelter, supportive housing, and services to address the root causes of homelessness.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Homeless Count (2023): Over 5,700 people.

Contributing Factors: Philadelphia faces a combination of high poverty rates, inadequate affordable housing, and limited access to health services.

Local Efforts: The city of Philadelphia is actively expanding its efforts to provide emergency shelters and permanent supportive housing. There is a strong focus on mental health services and job training programs aimed at aiding the transition out of homelessness. Philadelphia’s comprehensive approach includes street outreach teams that work to engage with homeless individuals directly and connect them to necessary services.

Chicago, Illinois

Homeless Count (2023): Over 5,200 people experiencing homelessness.

Contributing Factors: Chicago’s homelessness is driven by high unemployment rates, systemic poverty, and a significant gap in affordable housing.

Local Efforts: Chicago has implemented several initiatives to reduce homelessness, including the development of affordable housing units and substantial investments in health services and job programs. The city also supports innovative approaches like “Housing First,” which provides homeless individuals with housing without preconditions, alongside access to supportive services aimed at sustainability and self-sufficiency.

18 Small Towns in the U.S. That Are Surprisingly Unsafe

The allure of small-town living is undeniable. Peaceful streets, friendly neighbors, and a slower pace of life all paint a picture of idyllic bliss. But beneath the quaint exteriors of some seemingly picture-perfect towns lurks a very different reality. Here’s a look at 18 small towns in the U.S. that face surprising challenges when it comes to safety.

1. Gary, Indiana

Crime Rate: An alarming 6,446 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: Ranked 4th worst in the U.S., according to NeighborhoodScout.

Gary’s decline began with the steel industry’s collapse, but its struggles are compounded by high unemployment rates and a significant number of abandoned homes, creating hotspots for criminal activity. The town is actively seeking regeneration strategies to revitalize its economy and community spaces.

2. Camden, New Jersey

Crime Rate: 4,487 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: 12th worst in the U.S., per NeighborhoodScout.

Camden’s efforts to turn around its image include investing in community policing and new educational facilities. However, despite these efforts, the city still faces challenges with drug-related crime and a lingering reputation that deters economic development.

3. Flint, Michigan

Crime Rate: 4,176 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: 21st worst in the U.S., according to NeighborhoodScout.

Flint’s issues extend to massive infrastructural deficits and a dwindling population, which strains local resources and complicates efforts to combat crime. The community is engaged in initiatives aimed at rebuilding trust and ensuring cleaner water resources.

4. Stockton, California

Crime Rate: 4,080 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: 27th worst in the U.S., as per NeighborhoodScout.

The economic recovery in Stockton is hampered by high rates of homelessness and poverty. Innovative programs like Advance Peace are being tested here to reduce gun violence through community engagement and support.

5. East St. Louis, Illinois

Crime Rate: 4,063 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: Ranked 29th worst in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.

East St. Louis suffers from one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, which directly impacts its crime rate. Efforts to improve the situation include boosting local education and youth programs.

6. Birmingham, Alabama

Crime Rate: 4,022 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: 32nd worst in the U.S., according to NeighborhoodScout.

The remnants of historical inequities are visible in the economic and social fabric of Birmingham, affecting everything from housing quality to job opportunities. Community leaders are focusing on inclusivity and economic diversity to bridge gaps.

7. Memphis, Tennessee

Crime Rate: 4,012 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: 33rd worst in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.

Memphis is employing multifaceted approaches to tackle crime, including youth engagement programs and economic incentives to revitalize poorer neighborhoods, aiming to reduce the incentives for gang recruitment.

8. Compton, California

Crime Rate: 3,881 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: Ranked 42nd worst in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.

Despite a reputation marred by decades of depicted violence, Compton is experiencing a cultural resurgence with new arts programs and community-led urban renewal projects aimed at providing safe and creative outlets for its youth.

9. Savannah, Georgia

Crime Rate: 3,829 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: Ranked 47th worst in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.

Savannah’s bustling tourism sector contrasts sharply with areas experiencing systemic neglect. Community efforts focus on bridging this divide with improved policing and neighborhood revitalization projects.

10. New Orleans, Louisiana

Crime Rate: 3,798 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: Ranked 50th worst in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.

Efforts to balance tourism with local needs include bolstering the police force and enhancing flood defenses to mitigate the impacts of frequent natural disasters, which often exacerbate social and economic instability.

11. Youngstown, Ohio

Crime Rate: 3,782 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: Ranked 52nd worst in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.

Youngstown’s strategy to combat crime involves re-purposing abandoned industrial spaces for new businesses and community centers, aiming to create job opportunities and reduce crime-prone areas.

12. Shreveport, Louisiana

Crime Rate: 3,739 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: Ranked 55th worst in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.

Shreveport’s unique position makes it vulnerable to transitory criminal elements. Local law enforcement is enhancing cross-state collaboration to tackle this issue more effectively.

13. Peoria, Illinois

Crime Rate: 3,723 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: Ranked 57th worst in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.

Peoria is focusing on community policing and providing better social services to address its rising gang violence, with an emphasis on engaging at-risk youth.

14. Atlantic City, New Jersey

Crime Rate: 3,698 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: Ranked 59th worst in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.

With the decline of its casino industry, Atlantic City is diversifying its economy by promoting new sectors like technology and green energy, alongside improving public safety.

15. Wichita Falls, Texas

Crime Rate: 3,682 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: Ranked 61st worst in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.

The dual nature of Wichita Falls, with its urban and rural dynamics, presents unique challenges. Local authorities are focusing on bridging service gaps between these areas to enhance safety.

16. Vallejo, California

Crime Rate: 3,643 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: Ranked 64th worst in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.

Vallejo is actively working to combat gang activity through community outreach programs that offer alternatives to gang involvement, aiming to break the cycle of violence.

17. Lake Charles, Louisiana

Crime Rate: 3,598 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: Ranked 67th worst in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.

Post-Hurricane Laura, Lake Charles is focused on rebuilding and strengthening community resilience to withstand future disasters better and reduce crime spikes during recovery periods.

18. Wilmington, Delaware

Crime Rate: 3,582 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Safety Status: Ranked 69th worst in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.

Efforts in Wilmington to address crime include improving access to quality education and healthcare, particularly in underserved communities, to foster a safer, more equitable city.

14 U.S. Cities Where Drinking Water Quality Is Falling Below Standards

As U.S. citizens, we often take our expectations for clean, safe drinking water for granted. However, the safety and quality of drinking water are diminishing across the nation. A staggering number of American cities are now dealing with water systems that deliver water failing to meet federal health standards, with some areas grappling with issues that could seem unthinkable in the 21st century. In our list, the safety and quality of drinking water have come under scrutiny, not just by regulatory bodies but by the very people who live in these fifteen cities. What are their challenges, how are residents responding, and what steps are local governments taking to mitigate these alarming situations?

Flint, Michigan

The Flint water crisis highlighted severe lead contamination from a decision to switch the city’s water source without proper corrosion control treatments. Residents have endured long-term health risks and remain wary despite ongoing recovery efforts. As per the Michigan State Government, over 9,000 lead-tainted pipes have been replaced since 2016, and water quality has returned to an acceptable level. Yet many locals continue to rely on bottled water for drinking.

Newark, New Jersey

In Newark, lead contamination affecting thousands prompted widespread protests and urgent actions. The city launched an aggressive $120 million program to replace lead service lines within 24 to 30 months, as the city’s Department of Water and Sewer Utilities reported. As of early 2023, over 20,000 lead pipes have been replaced, drastically reducing lead levels in the drinking water.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh has faced significant challenges with lead in its water. According to the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, lead levels exceeded the EPA’s action threshold in 2016. The city has since committed to replacing at least 7,000 lead lines by 2026, and recent data suggests that lead levels are now below the EPA’s action limit, signaling progress in their remediation efforts.

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore’s water issues, including E. coli contamination, have led to multiple boil water advisories. The city’s Department of Public Works has initiated a comprehensive $1.6 billion water system overhaul, focusing on updating aging infrastructure and implementing advanced water treatment technologies to prevent future contamination.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee’s lead pipe crisis affects an estimated 70,000 residences, primarily in older homes. The city has responded with a plan to replace about 1,000 lead service lines per year, focusing on high-risk areas such as schools and daycare centers, as stated by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Despite these efforts, challenges still remain in funding and logistics.

Fresno, California

Fresno deals with arsenic and other agricultural runoff contaminants. The California State Water Resources Control Board reports that some areas of Fresno have arsenic levels that exceed the EPA’s standard by up to three times. Ongoing initiatives include enhancing water filtration systems and securing state funds to improve water infrastructure.

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit’s extensive water system serves nearly 4 million people but needs help with aging infrastructure that risks lead contamination. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is undergoing a city-wide effort to replace old lead service lines and improve water treatment facilities, aiming to safeguard against potential health risks.

Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., historical issues with lead contamination have led to significant public health concerns. The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority has been actively working on a comprehensive lead replacement program. It has implemented rigorous water quality testing protocols to ensure the water meets national safety standards.

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans faces unique challenges due to its low elevation and frequent water pressure issues, which can lead to contamination. The Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans has invested in significant infrastructure upgrades to improve resilience and reliability, including emergency power and water system enhancements.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Given its desert location, it should come as no surprise that Las Vegas faces significant challenges in maintaining water quality. The Southern Nevada Water Authority has implemented cutting-edge technology for water treatment and reuse to manage the presence of trace contaminants, striving to sustain water quality in a region marked by scarcity.

Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix contends with hard water and high levels of calcium and magnesium, besides periodic breaches in contaminant levels. Efforts by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality include upgrading water treatment plants and enhancing groundwater management strategies to cope with the city’s expanding population and environmental challenges.

Los Angeles, California

The residents of Los Angeles grapple with several industrial pollutants in their water, including chromium-6. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is investing in state-of-the-art water treatment facilities and pollution control to reduce the impact of industrial contaminants on the city’s water supply.

St. Joseph, Louisiana

St. Joseph’s water system has suffered from discolored water and high iron content, leading to state intervention. The Louisiana Department of Health has spearheaded a complete overhaul of the water system, investing millions to replace the entire water infrastructure to ensure compliance with federal standards.

Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield’s water is twice as deadly: it contains both naturally occurring elements like arsenic and human-made contaminants like pesticides. The California Water Boards monitor these levels closely, with ongoing initiatives to improve water filtration and reduce dependency on contaminated groundwater sources.

Cleveland, Ohio

For years, Cleveland has been tackling pollution in Lake Erie, its primary water source, through enhanced treatment processes and strict monitoring. The Cleveland Water Department has focused on protecting the lake from industrial pollutants and runoff for its nearly 1.4 million consumers. However, the ongoing challenge of lake pollution, thanks to industrial waste, necessitates continuous monitoring and treatment improvements.