Is there a strong correlation between housing costs in American cities and the likelihood that people living there are homeless? A national study of major U.S. markets released today indicates the answer is yes.

What’s more, with the lowest homeless population rate among the country’s 50 most populous metro areas, Atlanta appears to be doing something right, according to research by Home Bay, an online real estate publication owned by Clever Real Estate.

The 50-city ranking lists Atlanta among a handful of “outlier” cities, in that it counts a low homeless rate (No. 50) despite typical home values (No. 25) that are squarely middle-of-the-pack.

Home Bay's analysis compared metro areas, as opposed to individual cities. Researchers found that metros with home values higher than the U.S. average have two and ½ times the homeless population of their cheaper counterparts.

Home Bay

The methodology used U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development data to gauge homeless rates in each city. All rates are estimates based on each metro’s “delineations and their corresponding continuums of care as listed by HUD,” notes the report.

Poverty rates in the analysis were pulled from U.S. Census data, and pricing for home sales and rents came via Zillow. The study pegs a “typical” home value for metro Atlanta at $325,680. 

According to Home Bay, the 10 metros with the lowest homeless rates per 100,000 residents are:

  1. Atlanta (32.8)
  2. Pittsburgh (37.4)
  3. Chicago (40.7)
  4. Houston (43.3)
  5. Cincinnati (47.8)
  6. Detroit (51)
  7. Richmond (52.6)
  8. Milwaukee (53.1)
  9. Charlotte (65.2)
  10. Buffalo (73.6)

Combined, the five cities with lowest homeless rates count home values 15 percent lower than the U.S. average—a difference of $255,860 vs. $301,466, analysts noted.

The national average homeless rate is 176 people per 100,000, according to the report.

On the flipside, typical home values in the 12 cities with the highest homeless rates are a whopping 118 percent higher than those with lower-than-average homelessness.

Rents in those cities are nearly $700 higher each month too, or $2,274 vs. $1,596, the study notes.

Here's Home Bay’s list of U.S. cities with the highest rates of homelessness per 100,000 people:

  1. San Jose, California (636.8)
  2. San Francisco (508.8)
  3. Los Angeles (501)
  4. Sacramento (415.7)
  5. Seattle (408.9)
  6. New York (340.7)
  7. San Diego (256.4)
  8. Las Vegas (246.2)
  9. Portland (240.3)
  10. Denver (231.6)
  11. Hartford (192)
  12. Phoenix (182.5)

Analysts noted that San Jose, which counts the highest homeless rate of all cities studied, also has the highest home prices among U.S. metros: $1.39 million, or four and ½ times the national average.


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