Homeless school-aged children need extra support from the school system, and in New York City they don’t always get it, new data shows.
There are more New York City students living in homeless shelters or staying with relatives than ever before — about 1 in every 10, the New York Times reports.
The number of New York City students residing in temporary housing who are at risk of homelessness surpassed 100,000 for the third year in a row, according to data released Monday by Advocates for Children of New York, a nonprofit working to achieve equal education for communities affected by poverty. As of early 2018, 114,659 students across the five boroughs lived in permanent housing.
“The problem of student homelessness is not going away,” said Randi Levine, the policy director of Advocates for Children, in an interview with the Times.
Homeless students have a lot more to deal with than the other kids in their classroom. In schools where homeless children make up 30% of the student population, and need additional assistance from the administration, it presents a huge burden. One Brownsville, Brooklyn, principal recalls helping an injured mother arrange transportation for her children to a new shelter, but after providing them with a solution, the students still didn’t make it back to school that week.
The housing crisis is creating a bigger and bigger problem at schools with low-income students, the Times reports. These students tend to have more frequent issues with attendance due to inconvenient commutes — one city program, for example, aims to take proximity to school into consideration when placing families in shelters. In 2017, students living in shelters missed 30 days of school a year, on average.
Government and private funding isn’t going very far to treat the situation, according to the New York Times — social workers are stretched thin, often with only one handling up to 1,660 homeless student cases. Philanthropic organizations also aren’t adequately contributing to aid the cause.
Of the City's 32 school districts, District 10 in the Bronx served the largest number of students experiencing homelessness last year (10,800 kids). District 9 had the next-largest population, with over 8,300 students in temporary housing. https://t.co/ra4d1To3KSpic.twitter.com/PbQXhfD3BP— Advocates for Children of New York (@AFCNewYork) October 15, 2018
Richard A. Carranza, the New York City schools chancellor, told the Times he’s shocked by how ill-equipped the city is to deal with these students.
“We’re investing $16 million annually, increasing the number of social workers at schools with the highest rates of students in temporary housing, and bringing this work under the Office of Community Schools to address key challenges students and families face,” he said.
The number one cause of homelessness in New York City is due to lack of affordable housing, and disproportionately affects people of color, according to the organization Coalition for the Homeless. Out of all the major cities in the US, New York City has one of the highest homeless student populations. In Chicago, 5% of students in public schools were homeless in 2017, and in Los Angeles over 3% of students were homeless in 2016.
Homelessness, among adults and school-aged children, has skyrocketed across the country in the past eight years. In 2017, after seven years of steady decline, the US homeless population increased to roughly 554,000 people who slept in cars, tents, or shelters.