One in nine New York City students experienced homelessness last school year.
“Students who are homeless in New York City could fill Barclays Center six times,” Randi Levine, policy director of Advocates for Children, said.
It’s a record high, according to an analysis from Advocates for Children: 119,320 students experienced homelessness during the last school year.
Of them, 40,840 stayed in shelters, 72,500 were doubled up — sharing someone else’s housing, and about 5,900 students lived in hotels, motels, or were unsheltered.
It’s an increase of 14% over the prior year. That growth has been fueled by the surge of migrants coming to the city — but schools were already serving a huge number of homeless students before their arrival.
“The last school year was the eighth consecutive year in which more than 100,000 New York City students experienced homelessness,” Levine said.
Every district served homeless children last year — but some saw more than others. In Bronx District 9, Brooklyn Districts 23 and 32, and Manhattan’s District 4, one in every five students was homeless last year.
“When we look at educational indicators, they are particularly abysmal for students living in shelter,” Levine said. “And that’s why we think it’s so important to make sure that the Department of Education has staff who are particularly looking out for students in shelter.”
The city hired 100 coordinators to work directly with families in shelter — but they’re now being stretched thin, and the funding used to hire them expires in less than a year. Meanwhile, more than 100 new shelters have opened without any public school staff to support them — even though the federal government has provided funding that can only be used for homeless students, and must be spent or returned by next October.
“That funding is available now. There’s a tremendous need right now. And the Department of Education actually has some temporary staff members who they’ve interviewed and are ready to start their work right now. But we’re seeing bureaucratic hurdles get in the way of the Department of Education getting that final green light,” Levine said.
In a statement, an education department spokeswoman said students experiencing homelessness were among the city’s most vulnerable, and a priority for the school system.
“We are grateful for the federal stimulus dollars that have allowed us to establish critical supports for our students and families affected by homelessness, including the shelter-based coordinators that were hired and who have directly supported families within our shelter system,” Jenna Lyle, spokeswoman, said.
“Although stimulus funding is expiring, ensuring continued support for these student populations remains essential,” the statement continued.
Lyle cited the city’s change to the Fair Student Funding Formula, which now provides more money to schools serving students in temporary housing, and the hiring of school-based staff who work directly with students experiencing homelessness and whose positions are funded in the budget.
But there was no mention of any specific plans on how to fund the jobs of the shelter-based DOE coordinators once the stimulus money dries up.
“Moving forward, we will continue to work with our partners at the city and state levels to identify and establish supports for our students in temporary housing, while contending with the city’s financial reality,” Lyle said.