Recent federal data found that the amount of homeless children increased 8 percent from the 2012-2013 school year. The number has been on the rise since 2009, despite the drop in unemployment and recession and housing crash recovery.
Washington Post writers Lyndsey Layton and Emma Brown reported that this increase “is a sign that many families continue to struggle financially even as the economy recovers from the housing collapse of 2008. And it offers a glimpse of the growing challenges that public schools face nationwide as they seek to educate an increasing number of low-income children.”
The public school system’s federal funds, which can be used to connect homeless children with support services, has not been able to keep up with the surging need for housing.
In fiscal 2006, the Department of Education distributed $61.8 million for homeless youth programs. It had fallen slightly to $61.7 million by 2013, then increased slightly to $65 million in 2014.
California has the largest number of homeless students, with 23 percent of the national total or more than 310,000, the Washington Post reported.
New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and Michigan followed, respectively.
One issue that the authors raised is that government programs, such as those offered by HUD, are directed toward homeless adults, not children. A bipartisan bill, currently pending in Congress aims to alleviate this issue.
“HUD officials said that complaints about the agency’s focus on chronic homelessness are based on years-old policies that have since changed to include a new emphasis on other kinds of homelessness, including among families and veterans,” the authors noted. “And they say arguing over eligibility rules for homelessness assistance programs misses the bigger problem: There just aren’t enough resources for people in need.”
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