One in 10 NYC public school students are homeless

Cyril Josh Barker | 10/31/2019, 11:20 a.m.
As homelessness continues to be a top issue in the city, a recent report places the attention on the number ...
classroom/education Pexels/Pixabay

As homelessness continues to be a top issue in the city, a recent report places the attention on the number of homeless public school children.

According to Advocates for Children of New York, during the 2018-2019 school year there were 114,085 student who were homeless in the New York City public schools. The data came from New York State Education Department.

Breaking it down, the report says more than 34,000 students were living in city shelters, and more than twice that number (73,750) were living “doubled-up” in temporary housing situations with relatives, friends, or others.

“This problem is immense. The number of New York City students who experienced homelessness last year—85 percent of whom are Black or Hispanic—could fill the Barclays Center six times,” said Kim Sweet, AFC’s executive director. “The city won’t be able to break the cycle of homelessness until we address the dismal educational outcomes for students who

are homeless.”

The number of NYC students identified as homeless has steadily increased by more than 70 percent over the last decade.

A report earlier this year by The Research Alliance for New York City Schools at New York University said that one in eight elementary school students experiences homelessness before the fifth grade.

Nearly 95% of students who were in a shelter—and those who were in a shelter for longer than the average time (of three years)—were Black or Latino. Homeless students are mostly in upper Manhattan, parts of the Bronx, and northern Brooklyn.

“One thing that is a little different about this work is that we were able to follow students over multiple years,” says Zitsi Mirakhur, one of the report’s authors. “This paints a more complete picture of who experiences homelessness—and in what ways.”

Students in shelters were more likely than other students to change schools, and had very high levels of chronic absenteeism. They also had the lowest test scores. Fewer than a third of city students who are homeless are reading proficiently, 20% points lower than their permanently housed peers. Only 57% of all NYC students who are homeless graduate from high school.

“We are heartened by the supports the city has added for students who are homeless, but now the harder work begins,” Sweet said. “With new leadership and school staff in place, the city must begin turning around educational outcomes for students who are homeless, starting with making sure students get to school

every day.”

AFC says the city has taken steps to support students who are homeless, including appointing new leaders to support this population and placing 100 “Bridging the Gap” social workers and more than 100 community coordinators in schools with high numbers of students who are homeless.