The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported initial counts from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual point-in-time estimates of the American homeless population. The official numbers won’t be released until later this year. To produce the WSJ’s own preliminary estimate, the reporters individually contacted the many Continuums of Care around the nation that compile the counts.

Unfortunately, the preliminary number indicates the homeless count increased from 2022 by around 11%.

I was interested to read in the article “Denver reported a 32% increase in homeless numbers in this year’s point-in-time count, among the largest increases in big cities.” I recall from researching my paper “Minimum Wages and Homelessness” that Colorado was a bit behind other blue states in increasing its minimum wage. Until a 2019 law, Colorado cities were disallowed from enacting minimum wages above the state minimum (see here).

With discretion delegated by the state legislature, Denver initiated graduated increases to $12.80 in 2020, $14.70 in 2021, $15.80 in 2022, $17.20 in 2023, $18.10 in 2024, and $19.10 in 2025. The state minimum wage had been $11.10 in 2019 increasing to $12.00 in 2020.

Denver’s minimum wage has increased 55% since 2019. The evidence and argument in “Minimum Wages and Homelessness” suggests this would lead to an increase in homeless counts consistent with the WSJ’s collection of preliminary 2023 HUD data.

As I conclude in the paper, “Individuals at the economic margins depend on the low-wage work of themselves or others. Any disruption to those economic circumstances can push them into housing (and economic) insecurity.”