A new report based on data obtained from the New York State Education Department reveals that more than 101,000 students in New York City experienced homelessness in the 2020-21 school year.
In Bushwick, alone, somewhere between 10-15 percent of students in the district experienced homelessness, according to the report, which was released today by the local nonprofit Advocates for Children (AFC) of New York.
Since the start of the decade, there has been a 42 percent increase in the number of students identified as homeless. But, in recent years, the number has remained relatively constant.
Last year, amid the height of the pandemic, about 28,000 students were learning remotely from New York City shelters and roughly 65,000 lived “doubled-up,” staying temporarily with others like friends and family in overcrowded housing. And 3,860 students were unsheltered last year, which means they were living in cars, parks or abandoned buildings.
Understandably, these living conditions tend to have a negative impact on students’ grades and learning outcomes. In 2019, for example, only 29 percent of students experiencing homelessness in grades 3-8 passed state reading tests.
And, particularly for students living in shelters, attendance is a key issue. Among students living in shelters — 94 percent of whom are Black or Hispanic, according to the state data — 57 percent were chronically absent during the 2019-20 school year, meaning they missed at least one out of every ten days at school. Only 52 percent of students living in shelters graduated high school within four years, nearly 30 percent lower than the citywide average.
With the release of this report, AFC announced that it, along with 40 other organizations citywide, have drafted recommendations to help guide Mayor-Elect Eric Adams in solving this crisis.
The group is calling on Adams and his administration to do a complete overhaul on the educational support system in NYC shelters, first by hiring 150 in-shelter Department of Education (DOE) coordinators to help families navigate the system and help students get the educational support they need.
Within the long list of asks, the group also is calling on Adams to place students in shelters closer to where they attend schools, as the city currently places 40 percent of families in a shelter in a different borough than where their children attend school.
“With the right support, schools can transform the lives of students who are homeless,” Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children, stated. “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.”
Featured Image: Erik Kantar
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