Homelessness in Texas: A Snapshot

May 24, 2024 | by Guest Posts

Categories: Affordable Housing, Homelessness

This is a guest blog post by Anja Taylor, Project Manager of the Texas Homeless Data Sharing Network (THDSN) at Texas Homeless Network (THN), a non-profit organization helping communities strategically plan to prevent and end homelessness. THDSN is the largest statewide homelessness data integration effort in the country and will improve the livelihoods of thousands of people experiencing homelessness throughout the state.

TSAHC supports THN's efforts to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring, and we're a supporter of THDSN as reliable and accurate data will allow communities to better serve those experiencing homelessness.

About the Texas Homeless Data Sharing Network

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), states, and Continuums of Care (CoCs), also known as homeless response systems, have made significant strides in recent years to improve data collection and analysis, often with limited resources. Still, available data presents a somewhat limited picture of homelessness. 

In 2023, for example, the annual Point-In-Time (PIT) count identified 27,377 homeless individuals across Texas on a single night in January. Yet, PIT count data only captures a small portion of those who experience literal homelessness each year. 

To develop informed and effective strategies to combat homelessness, practitioners, policymakers, and the public must have access to reliable and comprehensive information about homelessness and its connections to other systems of care. The Texas Homeless Data Sharing Network (THDSN) aims to fill this knowledge gap and strengthen statewide efforts to alleviate the interrelated issues of poverty and homelessness. 

Through the THDSN, regional and statewide data on homelessness can now be analyzed in real-time for the first time, which provides significant advantages in terms of research and strategic planning. This report intends to further the impact of the THDSN as a robust data resource and support ongoing efforts to reduce homelessness. The following sections provide an overview of the trends and patterns for those who experienced homelessness in 2023. 

Data and Methodology 

The THDSN captures data from local Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS). HMIS is an electronic data collection system that stores longitudinal client-level information about those who access the homeless services system through a CoC program

Data in this report reflect information from aggregated HMIS records maintained by 9 of 11 Texas CoCs from January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2023. Figure 1 shows the CoCs currently participating in this initiative, representing 237 of 254 (or 93%) of Texas counties. 

Clients self-report data at intake or exit from one or more of the following services: Emergency Shelter, Safe Haven, Street Outreach, and Transitional Housing. At intake and/or exit, clients provide information on their demographics, health, living situation before entering a program, and destination upon exit. 

Homelessness Trends Over Time 

In 2023, 61,365 unique individuals (or approximately 0.2% of the state population) were served by Texas CoCs, down from 79,842 in 2022 (Note below: Reference #3). This number is an undercount of the actual number of people experiencing homelessness, as this data source does not include those served by the San Antonio CoC or Wichita Falls CoC.  Still, the THDSN remains the most comprehensive data resource available on the rate of homelessness in Texas. 

The newly published State-Level Homelessness report shows that, despite the decrease in the statewide homeless population in 2023, the overall rate of homelessness in Texas has continued to trend upward in recent years (2018-2023). This increase may be attributed to a lack of affordable housing, soaring rent prices, and a lapse in pandemic relief aid from the federal government, all of which are consistent with nationwide data trends

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas reported consistent but modest annual increases in the total homeless population. In 2018, for example, 54,953 unique individuals received services from homeless providers. This number increased to 59,141 (or approximately 7.62%) in 2019. 

In 2020 and 2021, data collection was disrupted by the pandemic. Texas had a 30.8% decrease in the statewide homeless population in 2020, with 40,877 unique individuals served. In 2021, however, the homeless population increased by 21.2%, for a total of 49,567 individuals. The federal response to the pandemic and the decompression of shelters to promote public safety likely impacted these outcomes. Thus, the population count for 2020 and 2021 is anomalous compared to years before and after COVID-19. 

The latest estimate indicates that, as pandemic-era protections end, there remains an urgent need to support proven solutions that help people quickly exit the homeless response system and strategic approaches to prevent homelessness before it starts. Still, the affordable housing crisis and high cost of living have left many individuals and families struggling to make ends meet. Consequently, homeless service providers and workers on the frontlines of this epidemic have faced an overwhelming burden in trying to address this humanitarian crisis.

Figure 2 shows the progression of homelessness trends in Texas from 2018 to 2023.


Special Populations: Veterans and Chronically Homeless 

The number of homeless Veterans remained relatively steady between 2022 and 2023.  As of December 31, 2023, 4,085 Veterans (or approximately 0.66% of the total population) were serviced by Texas CoCs. This number is up slightly from 3,962 active Veterans identified in 2022. Additionally, 2,594 unique individuals (or approximately 0.04% of the total population) were identified as chronically homeless. The number of chronically homeless individuals also increased from 1,949 individuals identified in 2022. To be considered “chronically homeless,” individuals must meet the following criteria: 

  • Currently homeless in an Emergency Shelter, Safe Haven, or Street Outreach program, and not currently housed; 
  • Have a disability that is indefinite and impairing;
  • Have reported being homeless in 12 of the last 36 months;
  • Have reported being homeless continuously for the past 12 months, or reported four or more episodes of homelessness in the past three years.

Race Breakdown 

The overall racial composition among the homeless population remained relatively flat from 2022 to 2023. The most significant change was in the number of people who identify as Black, which increased by 10.62%, an already disproportionate number when compared to the total statewide population in 2023 (13.4%). The White population increased by 6.42%, and in the same period, the Hispanic/Latino population increased by approximately 2.7%. 

Figure 3 displays the breakdown of all racial categories reported between 2022 and 2023. 



Gender typically varies very little from year to year, which remained the case between 2022 and in 2023. In 2023, 60.72% of the population served identified as male, 36.96% as female, and less than 2% of the population identified as non-binary, transgender, or an unknown gender. 

Age Breakdowns

About 15% of the total population that experienced homelessness in 2023 were children under the age of 18. This includes 3,403 infants and toddlers who had not yet reached the age of five (5.55%), 3,152 children between the ages of five and 10 (5.14%), 1,513 aged 11 to 14 (2.47%), and 941 children between the ages of 15 and 17 (1.53%). 

Adult sub-groups between 18 and 54 represent more than half of the total CoC client population in 2023 (65.16%). The largest sub-age group accessing CoC services is adults aged 35 to 44, comprising 12,142 individuals (or 19.78% of the CoC client population). The second largest sub-age group among the adult population is those aged 25 to 34, which accounted for 12,020 (or 19.59% of the CoC client population). 

Older adults aged 55 or older were less likely to enter the CoC system during the study period than their younger counterparts; only 19.3% of all clients fell into this age group. Yet, while the overall numbers remain small, the number of adults aged 55 or older accessing homelessness services increased by almost 5% between 2022 and 2023.  

Figure 4 details the age breakdown of the homeless population in 2023. 


Family Status 

Between 2022 and 2023, the number of families (analyzed as households with children) remained relatively steady. In 2023, families accounted for 8.17% (or 13,394 households) of the total population. Moreover, the rate of child-only households (analyzed as households with children under the age of 18) made up 1.1% (or 840 households) of the total population. Adult-only households (analyzed as households with adults over the age of 18) made up the largest of the CoC population, comprising 90.06% (or 46,844 households). 


Homelessness is a multi-faceted human rights issue that requires a collaborative and strategic response. While progress has been made in providing support and resources to individuals experiencing homelessness, there is still more work to be done. 

As the number of unhoused Texans continues to rise, the importance of data collection and analysis cannot be underestimated. The THDSN offers an opportunity for CoCs, homeless service providers, and other systems of care to come together and implement sustainable solutions that prioritize housing stability, healthcare, and access to resources. 

This report would not have been possible without the support of our CoC partners. Their participation in this project allows us to better understand the magnitude of homelessness, which helps to ensure that homelessness in Texas is rare, brief, and non-recurring. 



  1. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). (2023, December). The 2023 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress.  https://www.huduser.gov/portal/sites/default/files/pdf/2023-AHAR-Part-1.pdf 
  2. Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R). (n.d.). Using Data to Understand and End Homelessness. https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/em/summer12/highlight2.html
  3. This report captures the minimum number of documented homeless individuals or households in Texas, as data is only collected from participating HMIS service providers. The data also does not include the majority of known migrant encounters at the Texas border for the purposes of consistent year-to-year comparisons.
  4. National Alliance to End Homelessness. (n.d.). State of Homelessness: 2023 Edition. https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/homelessness-statistics/state-of-homeleness/
  5. United States Census Bureau. (n.d.). U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Texas. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/TX/PST045223  

On the House blog posts are meant to provide general information on various housing-related issues, research and programs. We are not liable for any errors or inaccuracies in the information provided by blog sources. Furthermore, this blog is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

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