More than 100,000 New York City students were homeless last school year, according to a survey from the education nonprofit Advocates for Children.
The New York Daily News reports that the survey found that a little more than 114,000 students in city public and charter schools – one out of every 10 – lived in a shelter or doubled up with friends or relatives in the 2018-19 school year.
The numbers continue a trend of sky-high rates of homelessness among city students, although they’re down slightly from 2017-18. The count has risen by more than 40,000 since the 2009-10 school year.
“This problem is immense,” says Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children. “The number of New York City students who experienced homelessness last year — 85% of whom are black or Hispanic — could fill the Barclays Center six times."
Students without permanent homes fare worse on almost every academic metric. Only 57% graduate high school, compared with almost 80% of all city students. Students staying in city shelters have the lowest graduation rates; less than half complete high school.
Education Department officials have taken steps to address the crisis. This school year, the city has added more than 30 social workers focused explicitly on homeless students. That brings the total number to 100. Another 100 community coordinators work in schools that have high counts of homeless students to arrange supports for them.
Nearly half of students placed in shelters are assigned to a different borough than the one where they go to school.
Students in shelters are guaranteed busing to school, but the waiting period while busing is approved can lead to lengthy student absences.
“The city must begin turning around educational outcomes for students who are homeless, starting with making sure students get to school every day,” says Sweet.
The vast majority of the city’s homeless students last year – almost 74,000 – were staying doubled up with friends or relatives. About 34,000 lived in city shelters.