Community Development, Homelessness, Reports and Publications, Supportive Housing

New Report Examines Student Homelessness in America

Civic Enterprises and Hart Research Associates

Approximately 1.3 million students were estimated to have experienced homelessness during the 2013-2014 academic years in the United States. This estimate is not representative of the overall population of students experiencing homelessness. According to a new report, Hidden in Plain Sight Homeless Students in America’s Public Schools, nearly 70% of formerly homeless students’ stated they were unlikely to reach out to others at their school to discuss their housing instability for fear of being stigmatized, bullied, embarrassed, and/or removed from school.

The report highlights the negative psychological, mental, physical, educational, and social impact of homelessness in the lives of students. More than 70% of youth surveyed and interviewed reported that homelessness affected their ability to feel safe and secure and hindered their ability to maintain close relationships with their parents and friends. Additionally, 60% of formerly homeless students stated that it was difficult to remain in school while experiencing homelessness. In fact, 4 in 10 students surveyed reported dropping out of school at least once or twice.

The report discusses the barriers to serving youth experiencing homelessness, the supports and services needed to assist this population, and school liaisons and students perceptions of available support services. It also provides suggestions on how the passage of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), effective beginning with the 2016-2017 academic year, might help to address some of the challenges faced by students and families experiencing homelessness.

As the report states, “ESSA is the newest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which established the federal government’s expanded role in funding the nation’s public education system, and replaced the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002.” The ESSA helps to strengthen the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which is the federal law that provides funding to school districts and provisions for immediate enrollment and educational stability for children and youth experiencing homelessness. ESSA increases the McKinney-Vento funding by $85 million each year from 2017 to 2020.

Some of the proposed policy recommendations in the report include:

  • Refine and standardize systems for identifying homeless students.
  • Increase outreach efforts to inform homeless students and their families of their rights.
  • Develop connections with mainstream services to local schools.
  • Raise awareness across the community around youth homelessness. 
  • Increase efforts around affordable housing.

This report surveyed 504 McKinney-Vento liaisons and 158 formerly homeless youth ages 18 to 24, conducted 44 in-depth interviews with formerly homeless youth and three telephone focus group with state coordinators (one focus group) and McKinney-Vento liaisons (two focus groups).

Click here to read the report. 


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