One Million U.S. Students Homeless, New Data Show
June 27, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For the first time in
history, public schools reported more than one million homeless children and
youth, according to data released today by the U.S. Department of Education.
The 1,065,794 homeless students enrolled by U.S. preschools and K-12 schools in
the 2010-2011 school year is the highest number on record, and a 13 percent
increase over the 2009-2010 school year. Furthermore, this total underestimates
the number of homeless children, because it does not include homeless infants
and toddlers, young children who are not enrolled in public preschool programs,
and homeless children and youth who were not identified by school officials.
Forty-four states reported school
year-to-year increases in the number of homeless students, with 15 states
reporting increases of 20 percent or more. States with the largest increases in
the numbers of homeless students include Kentucky (47 percent), Michigan (38
percent), Mississippi (35 percent), Utah (47 percent), and West Virginia (38
percent). In Michigan, the number of homeless children enrolled in public
schools has increased 315 percent between 2008 and 2011.
Not all of the children included in the data released
today are recognized as "homeless" by the U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development (HUD). As a result, homeless children are eligible for
educational assistance through local schools, but not help from HUD. Congress
is considering legislation - the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 32),
sponsored by Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL) - that makes all homeless children
identified by public schools eligible for HUD homeless assistance.
The data show the troubling depth of America's housing
crisis. "The severe lack of affordable housing for families has yet
to be addressed, and over one million children are paying the price," said
Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness
& Poverty. "Everyone has a human right to safe, decent,
affordable housing. And until we make that right a reality for all Americans,
the number of homeless students will continue rising."
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