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close this bookBasic Facts on Urbanization (HABITAT, 2001, 21 p.)
View the documentAbout
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentGeneral Demographic Trends
View the documentThe Growth of Large Cities
View the documentThe Economics of Cities
View the documentUrbanization and Feminization of Poverty
View the documentThe Challenge of Adequate Housing
View the documentHomelessness
View the documentUrban Violence
View the documentEnvironmental Deterioration
View the documentAccess to Services and Basic Infrastructure
View the documentChildren in the Urban World
View the documentSustainable Urban Development
View the documentGlobal Campaigns on Security of Tenure and Urban Governance
View the documentNotes
View the documentList of References


Worldwide, the number of homeless people has been estimated at anywhere from 100 million to one billion or more, depending on how homelessness is defined. The estimate of 100 million applies to those who have no shelter at all. The estimate of one billion or more include those living in inadequate shelter conditions as well.(37)

Several million people are homeless in Europe and North America. Using the most conservative definition of homelessness, nearly 2.5 million people were estimated to be homeless in the early 1990s within the then 12 countries of the European Union. If the people living in 'seriously substandard accommodation' are added, the total of homeless people in the European Union was estimated to be 18 million.(38) In the United States, some 600,000 persons were estimated to be homeless on any given night between 1985 and 1990, while some seven million experienced homelessness at least once during the same period.(39) In Canada, estimates for the number of homeless people based on the number using temporary night shelters and those living and sleeping outside suggest between 130,000 and 250,000.(40)