- Over 1.5 million children and youth were homeless during the 2017-18 school year, an all-time high and an 11% increase over the previous year, according to new federal data released Wednesday.
- The number of students sleeping in cars, parks and on the streets more than doubled in one year’s time, the data shows, and the number of students living in hotels increased by 17%. The report also shows student homelessness increased by 10% or more in 16 states and by 20% or more in eight states, while five states saw a reduction of 10% or more.
- Over a three-year period, the rate of homelessness among English learners increased by 30%, and by 16% among students who have disabilities or are unaccompanied — similar to the overall rate for all homeless students.
The report from the National Center for Homeless Education includes data showing four-year graduation rates and academic proficiency rates among students in unstable living arrangements are below those of students in poverty.
“We have learned how to effectively identify students experiencing homelessness and get them the supports they need to stay on track in school,” John Bridgeland, the founder and CEO of Civic Enterprises, a social enterprise firm, said in a joint press release with SchoolHouse Connection, a nonprofit. “Now is the time to apply this knowledge to redouble our efforts in ensuring all students have the same opportunity to graduate from high school and succeed in college, work and life.”
The organizations also point to a recent report from California’s state auditor showing school districts undercounted homeless students by at least 37% for the 2017-18 school year. The agency recommended districts be required to distribute housing questionnaires to families annually and that school personnel are trained on provisions of the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which provides services including transportation, counseling and connections to social services.
In the Los Angeles Unified School District, Superintendent Austin Beutner has called on California Gov. Gavin Newsom to direct some of the funding he’s proposed to address homelessness toward schools so they can better identify homeless students and connect them to services.
“We can’t do it all by ourselves,” Beutner said Tuesday at an event at the University of California Los Angeles, where he described efforts to work with city and county agencies to serve students and families in their local communities. “The more we can break down those silos, the better.”
At the federal level, Civic and SchoolHouse Connection are advocating for passage of the Homeless Children and Youth Act, which would bring more agreement between the way the U.S. Department of Education defines homelessness and the way the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determines who qualifies for assistance.