Today’s Read: Homeless in New York Public Schools at a Record High: 114,659 Students

As the affordable housing crisis forces even more New Yorkers into homelessness, the impact is felt in classrooms throughout New York City. New data released this week show that the number of NYC students experiencing homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year reached a record high of 114,659: One out of every 10 students was either sleeping in a shelter or doubled-up with family or friends. Homelessness creates myriad challenges for children, such as long commutes to school and a greater incidence of behavioral and academic difficulties as a result of the unrelenting stress that accompanies homelessness.

The Coalition operates programs specifically designed to support homeless children and we host an annual Project: Back to School supply drive to help homeless students keep up with their stably housed peers, while advocating for more permanent housing resources so their families can move out of shelters and into homes of their own. Several dozen homeless students joined us at a NY Kids Need Housing march and rally in June, part of the House Our Future NY campaign urging Mayor de Blasio to dedicate at least 10 percent of his 300,000-unit Housing New York 2.0 plan to homeless New Yorkers – 30,000 units, including 24,000 units to be created through new construction. Despite repeated calls from homeless children,  58 organizations, and a majority of NYC elected officials – as well as growing media attention – Mayor de Blasio has obstinately refused to agree to this sensible strategy that would help dramatically reduce the number of boys and girls experiencing homelessness in New York City.

Eliza Shapiro wrote about the bleak new milestone for The New York Times:

The number of school-age children who are homeless has sharply increased in the last eight years along with a rise in homelessness over all. As politicians debate policy solutions, the number of students in temporary housing has ballooned to 114,659 students as of last spring, from 69,244 children in 2010.

That’s more homeless students in New York City than the population of Albany.

New York City has one of the highest populations of homeless students of any big city in America. About 5 percent of students in Chicago’s public schools were homeless last year, and just above 3 percent of Los Angeles’ students were homeless in 2016.

There are about 1.1 million children in the city’s public schools in total.

The homelessness problem has left shelters at capacity and more people sleeping on streets and subways. Close to 38,000 homeless students lived in a shelter last year, down slightly from the previous year; the rest stayed with relatives while their families looked for permanent housing.

And in the last school year, there were 3,097 more students in temporary housing than in the 2016-17 school year.

“The problem of student homelessness is not going away,” said Randi Levine, the policy director of Advocates for Children.

Of New York’s 1,800 schools, 144 have had the vast majority of homeless students in their classrooms over the last four years. Homeless students tend to struggle academically: In the 2015-16 school year, just 12 percent of students living in shelters passed the state math exam, and 15 percent passed English.