Just the Facts: Homelessness and Poverty in our Community


  • The federal Poverty line is $11,892 for an individual and $23,836 for a family of four.

  • 1 in 3 native Americas (29.2%), over 1 in 4 African Americans (27.2%), 1 in 4 Latinos (23.5%) 1 in 10 Asians (10.5%) and 1 in 10 whites (9.6%) live blow the federal poverty line.

  • There are 14 million vacant homes in the U.S., while 3.5 million people experiencing homeless each year.

  • According to the US Census there were 227,740 people living in poverty in Cuyahoga County, which represent 18% of the population. (52.2% Black, 33.9% White, 8.9% Latino 2.5% Asian)

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  • According to The Center for Community Solutions, 36.2% of the population of Cleveland lives in poverty and 18.2 are in abject poverty (household income less than 50% of the poverty rate). Furthermore, the number of Clevelanders living on income at 200% of the official poverty line is estimated at 61.3%. And Cleveland Child poverty rate is at 53.5%.

  • There were over 11,000 evictions in the Cleveland Housing Court and a percentage of those fall into homelessness every year.


  • Based on Census Data and the Department of Education’s definition of homelessness, we estimate that there are around 23,000 people, around 10 percent of those living in poverty who experience homelessness every year in the county.

  •  The Cleveland Public Schools saw 2,744 homeless students in 2017.  

  • Singles are staying shorter periods in shelter with an average length of stay of 89 days and family length of stay has increased to 63 days.  

  • There has been an increase to crisis levels in family homelessness to 2,154 in 2017. This is a 24% increase since 2015.

  • According to the Office of Homeless Services, the number of people in shelters has increased from 4,576 to 4,698 in 2017

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While Cuyahoga County has lost 444 beds of shelter over the last decade, we have seen an increase in Permanent Supportive Housing to 781 units. We have seen steady decrease in the number of veterans and the number of long term homeless living in Cleveland. Yet, every shelter in the city is full to capacity every night and running an overflow and The Public Housing waiting list has surpassed 21,000 people with only 9,000 units in their inventory.

The number of people sleeping downtown and on the west side has seen another increase over the last year. Furthermore, we have seen an increase in pregnant women without shelter and every couple of weeks we find a family living in a place not fit for human habitation. At one point, we had 4 pregnant women living outside without shelter and before entering the shelter system, 515 people reported staying in a dangerous place not suitable for human habitation in 2017.

  • In 2017, the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimated that a single individual in Cuyahoga County must make $15/hour for 40 hours/week in order to afford a two bedroom apartment. These renters still have to work 55 hours/week to afford a one-bedroom apartment unit.  And nowhere in the United States does welfare or disability assistance provide enough income for an individual to afford an apartment without subsidization.

  • The minimum wage in Cuyahoga County as of 2017 is $8.30/hour. That means a single mom would have to work at least two minimum wage jobs to provide for her children.

  • NEOCH estimates that around 55,000 people were in need of subsidized affordable housing in Greater Cleveland in 2017

  • There were 4,291 adults and 1389 children, who were screened at the Coordinated Intake Center in 2017.