The National Center for Homeless Education reported that there were a total of 1.3 million homeless public school students in the United States during the 2012 – 2013 school year. The number of homeless students increased 8% from the previous year and 85% since the beginning of the recession. This number includes students whose families are sharing homes and students who are living in shelters, hotels, motels or without shelter altogether.
For the first time, the U.S. Department of Education asked the students whether they were living with their parents and recorded that 76,000 homeless students were “unaccompanied.” These unaccompanied minors face greater threats of physical and sexual abuse and exploitation.
EdWeek has reported that the increase in homelessness can be explained by “an inadequate supply of public housing and assistance, growing rent costs, and relatively flat income levels in recent years.” Furthermore, this information has prompted child welfare advocates to push for the passage of the Homeless Children and Youth Act, which would expand the definition of homelessness, remove federal restrictions, and require better data and information on homeless individuals.
This last piece of the proposed legislation is important because the numbers released by the NCHE tend to underestimate the number of homeless students, who may be embarrassed to talk about their living situation. Additionally, CNN Money reported that part of the increase in homeless students could be explained by more accurate measures of homelessness. Regardless, it is still apparent that the number of homeless students continues to rise in the wake of the recession.