2.5M American children live in shelters, on the streets, and in cars.  According to naehcy.org, Nearly 1.2M U.S.  school children were homeless at some point during the 2011-2012 school year .



24 thoughts on “HOMELESSNESS”

  1. Since my group has done semester long research on homeless youth, I was already aware of this horrific statistic but that still doesn’t make it any easier to accept. Homelessness is a growing epidemic and I think the first step in moving forward to really understand how prevelant homelessness is for youth around us is admit that it is a problem. Next step I think would be understanding the role each person plays in slowing down the epidemic. Teachers, principles, parents and the community all have a vital role.

  2. This 60 minutes report on homeless youth living in cars really made my heart sank. I could never guess how many children where homeless but not actually on the streets or in a shelter. They are also living in motels and in cars, just trying to find a safe place at night to sleep. I can’t even begin to imagine the stress and pain these families must feel even though they stay strong and united with their loved ones. This video shows that more than only helping homeless youth with their struggles must be done. Their families need help too. This video makes the homeless lifestyle real and provides a heartbreaking perspective from the families that do everything they can to keep their families safe.

    1. This video was heart breaking. I can’t imagine the way these families have to survive each day living in the streets. In the school system, so many children come to school from unstable family living arrangements. The stress of not having a place to sleep or be with family members must be difficult to cope with while also managing other daily life stressors. I’m hoping that programs can be put into place in the school system to support homeless students. Backpack programs that send home food and warm clothing/blankets with students is definitely a first place to start.

  3. I thought the information that this group presented was shocking. Homelessness is a serious issue that needs to be addressed and can be a huge underlying problem that will create large problems for the person. I was surprised to learn that even when students are able to get out of their homeless situation, the trauma from the event still haunts them and they still struggle, even after being homeless. A school that is close to my home struggles with supporting and taking care of the students needs while still trying to instruct the students. The teachers try to teach and conduct class, but when the basic needs of the students are not being met, the teachers have to focus on their basic needs for survival. The more awareness we can bring to this topic, hopefully, the more it will help.

    1. Jennifer,

      Before working in public schools, only veterans in the area had been mostly effective by homelessness. Around 2011, a community study brought awareness to educators the amount of children who resided in shelters, community homeless camps, and or community living areas.
      Teachers wondered why some students required extra food servings during breakfast and lunch sessions. In desperation, some teachers have started resource closets for students for personal hygiene and clothing. Realizing this idea was thoughtful, still basic needs, i.e., physiological, and safety were not being met for these students. Jennifer you mentioned, “Teachers try to teach and conduct class.” It is difficult for anyone to maintain self- esteem, respect for themselves, and confidence if their physiological need is not permanent. It is important to bring forth awareness of homelessness amongst students. The National Survey for Programs and Services for Homeless Families survey of 2011 indicated an increase in student homelessness due to economic downturn and housing crisis. “According to the Kentucky Core Content Test scores from the 2007–08 school year, homeless students across grade levels scored lower than their sheltered counterparts on math and reading assessments. Furthermore, homeless students were more likely to be absent 10% or more of the school year.” Metropolitan Housing Corporation, Where Do You Live? Louisville’s Homeless Children and the Affordable Housing Crisis, August 2009; Metropolitan Housing Coalition, “Homeless—Not Helpless,” Metropolitan Housing Coalition Newsletter, October 2010. The Kentucky Interagency Council on Homelessness implemented a state ten-year plan to end homelessness. However, this plan will not resolve the issue(s) in which student grades decrease do to homelessness. This plan does not help students with “now” needs and or resources to cope with they are lacking within educational institutions.

  4. The statistic is shocking, as I stated after watching the speech on childhood homelessness by Senator Bernie Sanders. This is my group’s passion and our topic for the semester. The more that I research and do these field experiences, I realize more and more the impact that this devastation has on the children, their education, and our community. This situation is serious, and it needs to be on the radar of all Americans. I believe I first became aware of the problem, firsthand, was when I learned that my residential advisor in my dorm, freshman year, was in fact homeless and that he had been for most of his teenage life, without his family. His story was pretty impactful on my life, but after leaving the dorms freshman year, it seems as if I almost forgot about his story, but listening to Senator Sanders address the issue reawakened me, and it ignited a passion within me. This class has already made a huge impact on my life, and I hope to take what I’ve learned as a match, so that some activism can be ignited.

  5. https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-education-and-poverty-america
    Receiving an education is not the single answer to prevent multigenerational poverty in America. If research suggest children from poverty families attend school less, and are more than likely to drop out of school compared to other children, it is plausible to believe this specific group of children will not receive a high school diploma. Research suggest that high school graduates between ages 25-32 made $8300 more in 1984 than high school graduates in 2011. Therefore, this causes me to believe children born in to poverty and reasons suggesting are not the only and are true causes of poverty in America.

    Professionals do not consider psychological aspect of children who mimic their environment. People in close environment serve as the mirror that reflects images of themselves. If children constantly view and observe undesirable images, they will proceed to believe and trust that image of poverty is acceptable. Educate parents and care givers on how to achieve substantial education, housing, and the necessary skills to achieve higher income, breaking the cycle of poverty. https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-education-and-poverty-america

  6. I recently witnessed something in the life of one of my friends that changed the way that I view homelessness in the secondary school. One of my close friends (who is in college) lives with her mother, two brothers, and a much younger sister. Recently, the entire family was evicted from their home due to an oversight in the lease contract. While they were able to find another house to rent in Lexington, the landlords wanted the family out within six days. The family could not move into their new home for two weeks. My friend ended up staying at my house, her mother and sister staid at a friend’s house, and the two brothers floated around from friend to friend for over a week.

    Even though the entire family had a place to stay, the emotional and physical stress probably affected my friend’s brothers more than one may think. Teachers must be aware that not every student goes “home” after school; some students do not have one permanent place to call home. Some of them are bouncing around between friends houses, and some live in their parent’s vehicles. Teachers must think about this before assigning homework that requires a computer or use of the internet.

  7. Now that I am currently working in the school I am in aw at the number of students who live below the poverty line, in group homes or shelters . Of the 2300 students, over 1000 participate in the free lunch program, not reduced but free. It is impossible to expect students to be engaged and working when they are hungry and without shelter.How do we expect parents to be engaged when they are concerned about basic living needs?

    Maslows Hierarchy is not just a psych term we all learned in high school. While I do not expect my students to share with me all of their trials and tribulations. I hope to be able to alleviate some of the burden. I will recognize students basic needs.
    This article provides strategies for students who are experiencing homelessness : http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-38-fall-2010/feature/helping-homeless-school-and-out

  8. EDC 550


    I found this video to be eye-opening into the world of a homeless child. It was definitely worth the watch! It’s so important to expose ourselves to realities outside of our own in order to change our perspectives and better understand others. This video helped me do just that when considering the lives that homeless youth live each day!

  9. EDC 550-201

    Sometimes we forget that our youth is the most important part of our future. Childhood development can be affected by numerous things, but homelessness shouldn’t be one of them. This time in a child’s life is crucial because this is when children grow and learn the most. Their brains are like sponges and they soak up everything that they see and hear. If a child is not eating, or doesn’t have a place to lay their head at night, their learning abilities can be negatively impacted. An article that was posted in the earlier comments discussed the reasons why people are homeless. A lot of times, it seems like a popular opinion is that homelessness is a choice, but sadly, it’s not. Several things could cause a family or an individual to lose their home and there shouldn’t be a stigma as to why. 2.5 million is such a large number and if 2.5 million opportunities are without a roof, then it’s not just their problem. It’s our problem.

    1. The following article, published September 3, 2015 in Ashland, Kentucky, states the Kentucky’s public school have the nation’s higher percentage of students who are homeless.


      There are programs that can help schools with grants, but out of 128 schools systems that apply for the McKinney-Vento grant in Kentucky, only 17 schools systems received it. With the number of homeless children increasing, something needs to be done to help these students. I have friends that work at a local elementary school that is comprised of low SES students. The teachers say that they cannot teach all the material that they need to in a day or week because they are too busy making sure their children have the basic necessities of life. Many come to school hungry and without a lunch and as the article states, don’t have stable home.
      Research has proven that student who are homeless struggle academically. It would be interesting to see research of students that are homeless and if their academic struggles change after they get permanent housing. I think the chances of this increase is pretty small, considering that the trauma of being homeless is pretty long lasting and has long-term effects.

  10. Sarah Caton EDC 550


    The above document is a 10-year plan (created in 2010) to eliminate homelessness in Lexington, KY. I believe the initiative is necessary, but I have yet to see many of the concrete solutions set in place or to have any impact in the greater Lexington community. As a blogger, I have written numerous times about the presence of homeless individuals on and around our college campus that pose a conflict of interest for many students. Students may want to help these individuals financially, but may have no ability to do so. Similarly, many of Lexington’s homeless struggle with addiction and mental illness which make it challenging for this problem to be remedied, and for a college student like myself to get involved. The potential physical threat of helping any individual or stranger, homeless or not, as a petite female deters me from engaging in direct aid. I am much more likely to volunteer my time at shelters or donate money to causes and school initiatives that I know directly support the end of homelessness. I do not think teachers in Central Kentucky fully understand the scope and impact of homelessness in this area, and how it plays a role within their classrooms. Teachers should be made aware by the government and community partners of the resources available to parents and students to aid them particularly with childcare, homework help, technology access, and meals.

  11. I found this website that provides information about the top reasons that people are homeless. Even as an educated person, I thought that people were mostly homeless due to a lack of education. However, this organization explains that homelessness occurs as a result of tragic life occurrences such as the loss of a job or spouse, domestic violence, divorce and family disputes. Many people live “on the edge” of homelessness in which a parking ticket or extra expense might cause them to not be able to pay a bill and render them homeless. This made me think of my students whose parents couldn’t pay for school supplies or field trips. I wonder if they were to pay for these things what bill would go unpaid. http://www.homeaid.org/homeaid-stories/69/top-causes-of-homelessness

    1. I think that this is a great website providing information about people who are homeless. It really breaks down the barriers and stereotypes that we have about those who are homeless. I completely agree that many would think that a lack of education would constitute a person being homeless. With their being so many other factors that contribute to a person being homeless, I think that this article points out many areas that we as teachers need to look for in our students that would either help us to recognize their homeless situations or to help us prevent them from falling into that situation when they get older.

  12. Homeless children are another reason that an attempt should be made by the school to speak personally with each student to gather their feelings on safety, home, the school and life in general. So many changes occur in teenagers that feel they have no one to talk to, but in an environment that provides a safe place to talk we can determine which students need our help the most. Some may have no home, and by simply asking the right questions, we can be aware of a need to provide students with additional requirements to complete assignments.

  13. I found this resource on legislation and different laws pertaining to ensuring education opportunities for homeless children to be very interesting. The challenges facing homeless children can play a significant role in that child’s performance within the classroom. Often times, teachers may not even be aware that a child is homeless. I think the first key is to identify these children that need assistance financially to ensure that they stay enrolled in school. I also believe that these students need additional resources, such as access to a computer after school hours to complete homework assignments or involvement in extracurricular clubs and activities to provide them with a positive outside environment that allows them to socialize and build community. Other issues such as fear, shame, and hunger can also affect students performance in the classroom. These would need to be dealt with on an individual basis depending on the student, but one large issue is hunger. It is nearly impossible for students to learn when their basic needs have not been met. Something as simple as keeping snacks in the classroom for these students will help tremendously. Cheap snacks like popcorn or peppermints are perfect to tide students over until lunch and are often overlooked because they are inexpensive.

    1. I completely agree with your comment. The way that the school system provides educational services for students that have special needs, I believe that the school system should also provide these same services for children who are homeless. Many of the school assignments today are heavily technology based. Children who are homeless do not have access to technology and class information in the same manner that their classmates do. They are not being granted with the same educational opportunities as their peers. These children need some way to have technology made more accessible to them.

  14. According to NAEHCY education is a key component in improving the circumstances of homeless children and youth. I agree with this notion. My question is what is the definition of homelessness. I’ve worked with “homeless” students in the public school system and these were any student that didn’t have a residence but weren’t actually living in a shelter or on the streets. Often these children were living with a relative such as grandma or aunt. If this is the case then many students are considered homeless. I mention this because I’m interested in knowing what the actual definition of homeless is and what subgroups exist within this definition.

  15. I found this article to be very interesting regarding homelessness in Kentucky schools. This article presents the state Report Card on Child Homelessness in Kentucky. Included in the article are state ranks for homelessness, an identification of who homeless children in Kentucky are, food security statistics, homelessness related to children’s health, and the effects of homelessness on students’ academic achievement. Additionally, the latter part of the article discusses policies and planning in regards to attempting to lessen the impact of homelessness on students in Kentucky schools.

  16. I paid particular attention to NAEHCY’s information on homelessness for undocumented and unaccompanied students since my group is doing our project on this subject. As a future educator I feel such a sense of responsibility for these children who do not have homes and see school and their education as their saving grace. These students outside of the school hours are stressed about finding a place to sleep at night and worrying about their next meal, but it’s also hard for them to put in hard work on homework and making the grades because they realize they don’t have access to higher education. What’s the point in it for them? Educators have such a difficult position watching these students suffer through homelessness on top of immigration issues and not being able to provide stability outside of the classroom as we wish we could.
    I think it’s so important to make sure that all educators are fully informed about the percentage of homeless or immigrant students who are undocumented that could be suffering from these issues in the home, and provide as much stability and support as we can from the classroom.

  17. This site provided a thorough explanation of federal laws and legislation related to educating students experiencing homelessness. It discussed in detail two specific laws (legislation) – The McKinney/Veno Act and FERPA. Additionally, it covered discussions on how to educate immigrant, migrant, and refugee students, as well as special education students. Homelessness is a devastating problem that affects more children in the United States than society leads us to believe. Too often teachers and administrators don’t even realize that there are homeless children in their classrooms and schools. As educators, we must be aware of and understand the detrimental effects of homelessness on children and do everything we can to provide homeless children with the utmost educational experience.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUBTAdI7zuY

      This video was about a guy running a social experiment where he handed a homeless man $100 and then proceeded to follow him for the rest of the day to find out how he spent the money. The homeless man, Thomas, then walked to a liquor store, which left the experimenter feeling disappointed, however he continued to follow the man. He was shocked to see that Thomas was walking around to different areas where other homeless people/families were, and were giving them food (looked like frozen pizzas). After he did this to multiple times, the man in charge of the social experiment finally approached Thomas and explained to him that he had followed him to see how he spent the money, and asked him if he knew any of the people that he was giving food to. Thomas explained that he didn’t know any of those people, and then shared his story. He said that many people who are forced to live on the streets are victims of circumstance. This video was extremely moving, because Thomas ended up doing what most people would think a homeless person would do with the money that they panhandle; he went to the liquor store. But he went to the liquor store to purchase the food that he selflessly gave away to people in the same non-desirable position. It is too easy to make assumptions about the people who live on the streets, and this video really puts that into perspective. Like Thomas said, “There are a lot of good people that are homeless.”

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