Sacramento’s Homeless Population – Painting a Picture

In order to better understand how the Sacramento homeless community has changed over the years, you have to look at its subpopulation characteristics.  This paints a nuanced picture of homelessness in Sacramento and provides insight into the many causes of homelessness.

The 2015 version of the Sacramento County and Incorporated Cities Homeless Count and Survey Report provides the most recent homelessness statistics for Sacramento and its incorporated cities.  This report is congressionally-mandated and is required for all communities that receive U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding for homelessness programs.  In January 2015, Sacramento Steps Forward and Community Link's Hands on Superior California participated in the point-in-time count to gather the data that formed the basis of the report.

While the report showed some interesting trends, its data revealed that the total number of homeless individuals in Sacramento County has remained relatively constant.  On a single night in January 2015, over 2,650 people experienced homelessness in Sacramento.  In 2009, the total homeless count was approximately 2,800 individuals.  The population has fluctuated between 2,300 and 2,600 since 2009.

(Source: Sacramento Steps Forward -

When you examine the subpopulation characteristics, you can get a clearer picture of Sacramento's homeless population.  For instance, over half of Sacramento's population is sheltered--a term that includes emergency shelters and transitional housing programs.  Approximately 40% of the homeless population is considered unsheltered.  These are individuals with a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place that is not ordinarily used for sleeping.  The vast majority of the unsheltered population is comprised of adult only households.  Only about 1% of the unsheltered population involves households with children.

The subpopulation demographics also provide insight into certain characteristics that are common among large portions of the homeless population.  According to the 2015 data, an estimated 26% of homeless adults have a serious mental illness.  25% of the homeless population suffers from a chronic substance abuse problem.  15% of homeless adults reported that domestic violence contributed to their homelessness.  Mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic violence are not always the sole causes of homelessness, but the interplay of these three factors often make it difficult for individuals to escape it.  This is why it is extremely important for homeless individuals to take advantage of local programs to address these issues.

If you want to learn more about homelessness in Sacramento and the local organizations dedicated to providing services to homeless individuals, make sure to attend Issue Immersion Day on November 15.  Seats are limited, so purchase your ticket today.  A portion of all ticket sales will be donated to this year's beneficiary, Next Move.