2017-11-22 / Features

Homelessness Of Students Still A Problem In NYC Public Schools

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month and one in every 10 students in New York City public schools has experienced homelessness during the 2016-17 school year, more than 104,000 students, according to an October 10 New York Times report.

There were 148,000 homeless students statewide, according to the Times report, and 2.5 million youth per year experience homelessness nationally, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness.

One week before Thanksgiving, almost 23,000 children live in shelters, according to the city Department of Homeless Services (DHS Daily Report; Friday, November 17).

In Astoria and Long Island City, one out of nine students have experienced homelessness by fifth grade and one in 10 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students have experienced homelessness in the last six years in Community School District 30, according to the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness.

At seven percent of its student population, District 30 ranks second by highest percent of homeless students of the seven Queens Community School Districts (District 29 ranks first) and 22nd out of the city’s 32 Community School Districts.

District 30 had 2,779 students who experienced homelessness during the 2015-16 school year with 427 (15 percent) housed in city shelters and the vast majority, 2,270 (82 percent), living “doubled up,” referring to temporary shelter provided by family or friends.

Doubled-up students in District 30 scored lower in the state English Language Arts and math exams than peers with housing. In addition, chronic absenteeism among students living in shelters was 49 percent compared to 13 percent for housed students.

District 29, located in the southeastern part of the borough, including the neighborhoods of Hollis and Queens Village, has the highest rate of homelessness among students in Queens at 8 percent with one out of eight elementary students having experienced homelessness by 5th grade and one of nine pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students having experienced homelessness in the last six years.

In District 29, 2,441 students were homeless during the 2015-16 school year, 729 (30 percent) lived in a shelter and 1,529 (64 percent) were housed doubled-up. The drop-out rate for those living in a shelter or doubled-up was four times higher (20 percent) than those in permanent housing (five percent).

Including hotels and cluster sites, 393 shelter units and four family facilities are within District 30 and 462 shelter units and four family facilities are within District 29. DHS considers families with children to be those having children younger than 21 years old, those with a pregnant woman, and pregnant women.

The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and Department of Education Chancellor’s Regulation A- 780 require students in temporary living situations to have access to the same public education and services that are available to permanently housed students.

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