More than 101,000 public school students in New York City are homeless, an increase of around 42% on 2010, a new report shows.
Advocates for Children released the report Monday, which highlights how the 2020-2021 school year was the sixth consecutive year that more than 100,000 New York City students experienced homelessness.
Throughout the pandemic, as students transitioned to remote learning, nearly 28,000 of them did so while living in New York City’s shelters, and approximately 65,000 lived “doubled-up” with friends or family, staying temporarily with others in overcrowded housing, the report states.
An additional 3,860 students were unsheltered, living in cars, parks, or abandoned buildings.
Although the number of public school students experiencing homelessness dropped 9% on 2019-2020, Advocates for Children put some of that decline down to the drop in overall public school enrollment (3.3%), as well as the difficulty schools experienced identifying students whose housing situation changed while they were learning remotely.
“While COVID-19 has further magnified the educational challenges facing students who are homeless, this group of students has long experienced tremendous obstacles to success in school,” the report states.
The report also highlighted how, as in past years, students who were homeless were concentrated in schools in the Bronx, upper Manhattan, and central Brooklyn. Overall, about one in seven Bronx students was homeless.
Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children, said no student should be homeless and urged Mayor-elect Eric Adams’ administration to meet the immediate, daily educational needs of students who were homeless in its plans to tackle New York City’s housing and homelessness crisis.
“With the right support, schools can transform the lives of students who are homeless. The next administration should bring together city agencies and charge them with ensuring every student who is homeless gets the support needed to succeed in school.”
AFC joined more than 40 organizations in releasing recommendations calling on Adams to overhaul the educational support system in shelters, starting by hiring 150 shelter-based DOE Community Coordinators “who have the skills and knowledge needed to help families navigate NYC’s complex school system and connect students with educational supports.”
The groups are also urging Adams to launch an interagency initiative to tackle the educational barriers the students face, such as chronic absenteeism, transportation and delays in enrollment and services.
In response to reporters’ questions on the report Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said “some real important work has been done” in terms of squashing homelessness in the city but that “more has to be done,” AMNY reports.
“The goal is to constantly get families to permanent affordable housing. We’ve got a lot more to do and to really support kids in shelter.”