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Homelessness in Missouri

January 18, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Jill Barnas

Homelessness is a multifaceted issue that affects over a half-million Americans on a single night in the US and is associated with adverse social, health, and economic outcomes. Homeless individuals or families lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including those who live in a shelter designated for momentary housing (sheltered) or in places not designated as proper housing (unsheltered). Between 2014-2018, Missouri homelessness has decreased by 18%. However, social disparities in homelessness are much greater in certain geographical areas (i.e., St. Louis) and have not improved in recent years.


  • In St. Louis County and City, approximately 75% of homeless individuals are African American / Black Missourians.
  • Between 2014 and 2018, family homelessness has decreased by 29% and veteran homelessness has decreased by 22%. The number of individuals experiencing youth and chronic homelessness has increased by 13% and 8%, respectively.


  • Existing data provide a snapshot of people experiencing homelessness rather than over the course of a year.
  • These data fail to describe the intersectionality of race and gender. It is not possible to conclude which subgroups are most affected by homelessness (e.g. black males) beyond race or gender classifications  independently.
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