EDUCATION
10/15/2018 05:27 pm ET

The Number Of Homeless Children Has Hit A Record High In NYC Schools

Roughly 1 in 10 children attending the city's public schools are homeless, according to new data.

A record 114,659 homeless or temporarily housed children attended New York City public schools during the 2017-2018 school year ― making up roughly 10 percent of the city’s public school students, according to newly released data.

The new figures released on Monday by the organization Advocates For Children of New York shows 66 percent more homeless students within the school district ― the nation’s largest in terms of enrollment ― since the 2010-2011 school year.

In New York state, there were 4,624 more homeless students than in the previous school year. In New York City, there were 3,097 more. In the borough of the Bronx, one district had 10,804 students living in temporary homes.

Roughly 10 percent of New York City’s public school students are homeless, according to Advocates for Children of
Advocates for Children of New York, October 2018
Roughly 10 percent of New York City’s public school students are homeless, according to Advocates for Children of New York.

Students’ temporary homes included homeless and domestic abuse shelters, hotels, unsheltered areas like cars or parks, and the homes of other family members or friends ― a situation called “doubling up.”

“The number of students who are homeless in New York City would fill Yankee Stadium twice,” Kim Sweet, AFC’s executive director, said in a statement. 

“While the City works to address the overwhelming problem of homelessness, it must take bold action to ensure that students who are homeless get an excellent education and do not get stuck in a cycle of poverty,” Sweet said.

According to a homelessness report compiled by the city, reasons behind the annual increase in homeless students include poverty, a loss of affordable housing and domestic violence ― longstanding issues the city has actively worked to fix for years, according to city officials.

“Our comprehensive plan to address the citywide challenge of homelessness is built around sheltering homeless New Yorkers closer to support networks, including schools, to preserve stability during challenging times,” Isaac McGinn, director of communications for the city’s Department of Homeless Services, told HuffPost in an email on Monday.

Homeless students stay in temporary homes, including homeless and domestic abuse shelters, hotels and unsheltered areas like
ridvan_celik via Getty Images
Homeless students stay in temporary homes, including homeless and domestic abuse shelters, hotels and unsheltered areas like cars or parks. Some of them also live with other family members or friends.

The city says the overall number of families with children staying in Department of Homeless Service shelters has decreased by 2,596 families since 2014. The city’s School Proximity Project, launched in July, has also transferred nearly 200 families to traditional shelters that are within five miles of their youngest school-aged child’s school. Since early 2016, it has also provided yellow bus service to all students in kindergarten through sixth grade who live in DHS shelters.

“We’ve made progress driving down the number of families in shelter, which has given us the flexibility to begin implementing this borough-based approach by offering hundreds of families who faced long commutes to school the opportunity to move closer to their youngest child’s classroom,” McGinn said.

A report compiled by the city comptroller’s office in March, reported on by the New York Times, found that the average homeless student misses more than a month’s worth of classes. It also found that the city’s education department failed to contact a parent to report the absence, as required, approximately 92 percent of the time.

Poverty, a loss of affordable housing and domestic violence have all contributed to growing student homelessness, accord
manonallard via Getty Images
Poverty, a loss of affordable housing and domestic violence have all contributed to growing student homelessness, according to the New York City government.

The city has increased the number of social workers from 43 to 70 at elementary schools with the highest rates of students in temporary housing, Richard A. Carranza, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, told HuffPost in a statement on Monday. It is also investing $16 million annually.

“We will continue to expand and deepen our investments, and we will have more policy updates to share in the coming months,” he said. 

New York City’s student enrollment dwarfs that of all other school districts in the country, including runners-up Los Angeles and Chicago.

According to The New York Times, which first reported on AFC’s data on Monday, about 5 percent of students in Chicago’s public schools were homeless last year and a little more than 3 percent of Los Angeles’ students were homeless in 2016.

The Times noted that though New York City has allocated millions to assist its homeless population, it hasn’t received much philanthropic funding, despite being a top city for philanthropy.

The Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation is reportedly the only organization that has donated more than $1 million to support the city’s homeless students in recent years.

CONVERSATIONS