Every day, New York City’s homelessness crisis plays out in classrooms around the city, where tens of thousands of students struggle to keep up in school while dealing with the trauma of not having stable housing. One of every 10 New York City public school students was homeless during the 2018-2019 school year, meaning they either lived in shelters or doubled-up with family or friends.
Reporter Eliza Shapiro and photographer Brittainy Newman profiled a day in the life of two of these students for The New York Times. The poignant interactive piece conveys the myriad challenges students in temporary housing often face, such as long commutes to school and frequent school transfers, which can contribute to academic difficulties and behavioral issues.
The number of school-age children in New York City who live in shelters or “doubled up” in apartments with family or friends has swelled by 70 percent over the past decade — a crisis without precedent in the city’s history.
By day, New York’s 114,085 homeless students live in plain sight: They study on the subway and sprint through playgrounds. At night, these children sometimes sleep in squalid, unsafe rooms, often for just a few months until they move again. School is the only stable place they know.
The New York Times followed Darnell and Sandivel for one day, from sunrise to sunset, to capture how much effort, help and luck it takes for homeless children to have a shot at a decent education.
New Yorkers can take action to help kids like Darnell, Sandivel, and the tens of thousands of other children experiencing homelessness in New York City:
Call for more permanent affordable housing to help homeless families move out of shelters and into their own homes. The House Our Future NY Campaign has been urging Mayor de Blasio to increase the number of permanent affordable apartments set aside for homeless families and individuals to 10 percent of his 300,000-unit Housing New York 2.0 plan: 24,000 newly constructed apartments and 6,000 preserved apartments. Sign the petition to add your name to the campaign.
Donate to the Coalition for the Homeless’ Holiday Toy Drive or buy a toy from our Wish List. Between now and December 13th, we are collecting new, unwrapped toys to ensure that homeless children can experience some of the warmth and happiness of the season.
Support the Coalition’s youth programs. Your donation can help send homeless kids to our Camp Homeward Bound summer sleepaway camp or enable them to participate in our Bound For Success afterschool program, which gives them the individualized academic support they need.
Advocate for more resources to help schools support the record number of homeless students. Coalition for the Homeless has been working alongside our partners in the Family Homelessness Coalition to encourage the City to increase the number of Bridging the Gap school-based social workers for schools with high rates of student homelessness, and we will continue to identify and advocate for other needed supports for students in temporary housing.
Plan to participate in the Coalition’s annual Project: Back to School supply drive. Every summer, generous New Yorkers help us fill thousands of new backpacks with necessary school supplies so homeless students can go to class prepared. Learn how you can get involved in Project: Back to School.