There are approximately 3.5 million homeless people in the United States, according to estimates from the Urban Institute. After the financial crisis that began in 2008, in which millions of people lost their homes, there were over 18 million empty American homes. Although theoretically there are more than enough houses in the United States to provide shelter for all of the nation's homeless people, there are many legal complexities relating to empty homes. Foreclosed houses are owned by banks, and because of the property taxes and the repairs required to make the homes safe, financial institutions generally opt to demolish them and sell or donate the empty lots.
More about the homeless:
- According to 2009 figures, it is estimated that between 5% and 20% of Americans who end up homeless have lost their homes due to foreclosures.
- About 90% of homeless women are thought to be previous victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.
- On any given night, about a quarter of the homeless population are children under the age of 18.