The Department of Education has released the results of a recent study and pointed out that there were about one million homeless students in America from 2010 to 2011.1

If you want precise numbers, the DE reported 1,065,794 homeless students – a 13 percent jump from 2009 to 2011 and a whopping 57 percent jump from way back in ‘07.

“The number is horrifyingly high but it probably is half of what the number really could be if the kids could be counted,” says Diane Nilan, one of America’s most prominent researchers on homelessness.

Nilan goes on to include that the report does not count homeless infants, kids that aren’t enrolled in school and the homeless students that haven’t yet been identified by the schools they attend.

The simple condition of being homeless could potentially negate any reforms aiming to raise the academic proficiency of low-income students and get them a better shot in life. Homeless students are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to their scholastic capabilities, with only 52 percent being proficient in SAT reading tests and 51 percent passing basic math tests.

Opening up aid, grants and scholarships to students who have a hard time reading won’t do them squat, while the social and emotional disruptions caused by homelessness can seriously make studying a whole lot harder for students. Why should you care about algebra when you’re looking for a safe place to sleep without getting mugged?

What is worse is that many more homeless kids aren’t even recognized by the government as truly homeless.

Students who list the homes of friends and family as primary residence are not counted as homeless by the government and don’t get a federal subsidy for housing. Just because they live with friends and family, however, does not mean that they don’t need help – especially since their ‘primary residence’ isn’t a permanent one.

In the meantime, Diane Nilan is worried about the number of foreclosed homes that aren’t being put to good use despite an overwhelming need for housing. “The banks need to kick in some resources here to save school districts transportation money and give families some stability. The solutions are at our fingertips.”


  1. Source: National Center for Homeless Education []

Last updated: July 2, 2012 by & filed under Blog

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