There were 209,325 people in emergency and transitional shelters in 2010, according to a special report released by the Census Bureau.

The shelters are defined as places where people experiencing homelessness stay overnight, including missions, hotels and motels used to shelter people experiencing homelessness, and shelters for children who are runaways, neglected, or experiencing homelessness. Shelters that operate only in the event of a natural disaster were not included.

For this report, census takers counted people at shelters, soup kitchens, scheduled mobile food vans, and outdoor locations during three days in March 2010. The Census Bureau stresses that the data looks at one segment of the population and should not be misconstrued as a count of the overall homeless population.

Of those enumerated in emergency and transitional shelters, 129,969 were males (62 percent) and 79,356 (38 percent) were females. That makes the number of males more than 1.5 times that of females.

Other key findings include:

  • The median age for the shelter population was 39.2 years.
  • Twenty percent of the shelter population was younger than 18. This was the second largest age group after the large 18-to-64 segment, which represented 77 percent of the overall shelter population. The 65 and older group made up just 3 percent.
  • Twenty-six percent of all females in emergency and transitional shelters were younger than 18 compared with 16 percent of males.
  • About 45 percent of those in shelters reported being white. Forty-one percent reported being black or African-American.
  • New York had the largest emergency and shelter population with 36,254 people. It was followed by California (27,655), Florida (12,714), and Texas (10,841).