The number of students experiencing homelessness in the United States has been on the rise in recent years, according to a new study from the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE).
The rate of students experiencing homelessness during the school year increased by 15% from the 2015-2016 school year to the 2017-2018 school year to reach 1.5 million students.
Furthermore, the number of students experiencing homelessness in 2017-2018 was more than double the number of students experiencing homelessness in the 2005-2006 school year, George Hancock, NCHE's director, told the New York Times.
The number of students actually experiencing homelessness is almost certainly higher, because the study did not identify students who experienced homelessness over the summer, who dropped out of school, or who are not enrolled in preschool programs administered by local education agencies.
Homelessness has a significant impact on student performance, affecting everything from attendance to mental health.
Only 29% of homeless students from the 2017-2018 school year achieved academic proficiency in reading, with even less achieving proficiency in math and science, at 24% and 26% respectively.
Homeless students are also more likely to drop out of school, and more likely to be suspended, according to the New York Times.
The majority (74%) of homeless students from 2017-2018 live in “doubled-up” housing situations, meaning they share a residence with others. However, the number of students who are considered unsheltered, meaning that they might be living in cars, abandoned buildings, or substandard housing, increased by 137% over the past three years.
Students are considered homeless if they lack “a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence,” as defined by federal law.
Homelessness in the US has risen overall, increasing by 2.7% from 2018 to 2019, the New York Times reported last December. Some of the underlying causes that drive homelessness are a lack of access to affordable housing, domestic violence, and racial inequality, according to a report from the Global Institute of Homelessness.