Number of Homeless Children in NYC Spikes

Robbie Couch wrote a devastating piece for Huffington Post about the sharp increase in child homelessness in New York entitled, “Number of Homeless Kids in NYC spikes 63% in 5 Years: Report.”

Couch writes:

“New York City neighborhoods known for their middle-class appeal may be tumbling down the socioeconomic ladder, and children are suffering the consequences.

A new report by the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness found that the number of homeless kids in public city schools has jumped 63 percent in the last five years, with the borough of Queens experiencing an alarming 90 percent spike. As New York Daily News reported, most of the increase was felt in neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens known to house middle-class families.

There were 77,915 homeless students living in shelters or staying with friends or extended family in the 2012-2013 school year — an increase of 30,020 children from 2007-2008.

The statistics are staggering,” the report reads. “Unless something is done to address the underlying issues driving families into extreme poverty, more children will become homeless. Community and government officials already know what the data show: that instability and homelessness have dire and long-lasting negative effects on children.”

New York City — which has been trying to halt growing income inequality among residents — is not the exception.

There was a record number of homeless students in the U.S. during the 2012-2013 school year, according to a survey by the Department of Education released last month. The report, which recorded 1,258,182 children living without stable shelter, tracked an 8 percent increase in homeless students from the previous school year.

As The Washington Post reported, 75 percent of homeless students nationwide were living “doubled up” with extended relatives or friends, 16 percent were staying in hotels or motels, and 3 percent were living without any form of shelter. Schools also reported that 75,940 homeless students were living without any caregiver supervision.”

This should be a wake-up call for all Americans.  While corporate reformers continue to seek ways to make huge profits off the backs of America’s school children, the reality is that a growing number of children really just need a home, parents who earn a living wage, healthy food, high quality affordable childcare, and safe neighborhoods.  Reform the lives of children and test scores will rise.  Finland did it.  We can, too. Finland focused their efforts on eliminating child poverty and they did.  Let’s focus our efforts on improving the lives of our citizens, and in particular those who have no vote or voice in policy, our children.  Nothing is more important.