Students in the USA left in the cold

How many Americans are aware that the future which lies in the hands of the next generation is facing undeserved difficulties to get them to the end of a degree which makes the difference?

Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released their latest national estimate of the number of homeless across the United States of America.

When we look at the results of the pubic schools registers of homeless children, required by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, we see an increase of 57 percent since 2007.

Homelessness

Homelessness (Photo credit: Vlastula)

The US Department of Education found that of these 1,065,794 children, many lived in abandoned homes, cheap hotels, stations, church basements and hospitals. Some spent their time sleeping over at the houses of various friends whenever they could. Trying to find every night some decent lodgings, lots of time has to be spend in live arrangement, instead of being able to use all that necessary time for study.

No wonder when youngsters have difficulties to find decent lodgings they do come in certain circuits where with the lesser living circumstances also lesser ethic values enter the situation. Mostly their main priority is to find a place to eat, sleep and shower. It is easy to fall victim to drugs and sexual abuse. Some of the students do think to have found an easy way to get more money, to be able to afford their food and educational material. For some, trading sexual acts for food, clothing and shelter or selling illegal drugs seems to be a way out of the misery they have to face every day.

The Department of Education report was only able to compile data from those currently enrolled in school, which indicates that there may be many more homeless children or infants living on the streets without an education.

Social services agencies and organizations are seeing a higher need, particularly among families. “We are feeling like the resources are spread very thin,” said Jean DeMaster,  whose non-profit Human Solutions in Oregon, provides housing assistance and operates two shelters.

The southern US state of Georgia has in recent years always had the highest number of homeless children. As many as 45,000 homeless kids and teens are on the street or in a temporary shelter each night in Georgia, 14,000 of which are in Atlanta.

English: Homeless man in New York 2008, Credit...

Homeless man in New York 2008, Credit Crises. On any given night in USA, anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million people are homeless, according to estimates of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But the states that reported the largest year-to-year increases in the June report were Kentucky at 47 percent, Utah at 47 percent, Michigan at 38 percent, West Virginia at 38 percent and Mississippi at 35 percent. In Michigan, where unemployment is above the national average, every county reported an increase in the number of homeless students.

The Houston, Texas, school districts records an appalling “estimated total of 12,512 homeless youth” identified in the 2011-2012 school year. The 8,647 students doubled-up in homes with other families represent the largest portion of these children, followed by the 2,706 school children living in shelters. 608 of Houston’s school children were without any shelter.

Across Oregon, 20,370 students — or about 3.65 percent — were identified by school districts as having unstable housing at some point during the 2011-12 school year, according to data from the Oregon Department of Education‘s annual count. Since the count began during the 2003-04 school year, Oregon’s numbers had steadily climbed until it reached last year’s high of 20,545.

In 2008, according to the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, Detroit had the highest number of homeless people and persons in families, 11,913 and 6,149 respectively. The situation for low-income families in Detroit is especially daunting, with families comprising 36.4% of the homeless population, In fact, over one-third of the city’s residents currently live below the poverty level and have an unemployment rate of 12.6%.

“The severe lack of affordable housing for families has yet to be addressed, and over one million children are paying the price,” Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty said in the report. “Everyone has a human right to safe, decent, affordable housing. And until we make that right a reality for all Americans, the number of homeless students will continue rising.”

Increases in the number of homeless students from 2010 to 2011 has hit 44 US states, reaching as far as small towns like Frederick, Md. In the months leading up to Christmas, Frederick Public Schools have been struggling to deal with the rising homeless student population, which has tripled since the 2004/2005 academic school year.

Hillsboro, which has the second-highest homeless rate among students in Oregon county with 1.97 percent, may say their numbers shrank by 52 kids to 411, according to the Oregon Department of Education. That’s nearly 2 percent of the district’s 20,900 students. State-wide, the numbers fell as well — from 20,545 homeless kids to 20,370, which is about 3.65 percent of all students in Oregon.

In 2003, Beaverton listed only 188 homeless students. In 2006, the number had risen to 1,093. In 2011-12, it was 1,809, nearly 5 percent of the 39,000 students and in Forest Grove it’s 1.7 percent of 6,017 students.

mentesana.JPG

Lisa Mentesana, Beaverton School District‘€™s liaison to homeless students. The district has the highest number of homeless students in the state for the third year, but it could be attributed to the district’€™s finding more of its homeless students than others do. – Photo Wendy Owen/The Oregonian

Lisa Mentesana Beaverton School District liaison for homeless students has managed to get a huge network of volunteers. Once the students are identified, the centre ensures they get free breakfasts and lunches at school, help finding a place to live, transportation to the same school from wherever that new home may be and other resources.

The school district also partners with the Beaverton Family Resource Center, and Mentesana helped create a one-stop centre for families dealing with homelessness.

She estimates about 50 percent of her student referrals come through the center, as families show up to get clothing or sign up for food stamps and for medical coverage.

In most cases family splits, divorces and serious illnesses are the cause of the problems. People can not afford the mortgage on their home any-more and they lose it.

In Frederick County, homeless families are often referred to as the “former middle class”, Carson said. Children struggling with homelessness also tend to fare worse in school, making it more difficult for them to rise out of poverty in the future.

“They know exactly what is going on with their family. When you are going home to a hotel, the last thing on your mind is homework,” Carson said.

Frederick is neither unique with its rising number of homeless students, nor the most severe. The growth in the number of homeless students can be seen in both wealthy counties in Virginia and poor neighborhoods in Detroit. Fairfax County, Va. – one of the nation’s most affluent counties – reported that 2,500 homeless students are attending public schools this year, which is 10 times the number reported 15 years ago.

The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth strives to help homeless children escape their situations, but currently lacks the funding to seriously address the problem.

“Unfortunately, funding for the program has remained flat, while the numbers of homeless children and youth have grown exponentially,” said Barbara Duffield, policy director of the organization.

Throughout Los Angeles County homeless shelters are up-and-running in 19 locations. Now that the cold is entering the country there is a bigger need to provide shelter. Kirk Tyler of “First To Serve” is helping the homeless through HUD funding. “The shelters are here so people don’t get hypothermia,” he says.

Under the federal McKinney-Vento law, districts must employ liaisons to ensure homeless students can stay within their home school and receive free or reduced lunch, among other things. The law is aimed at providing some semblance of stability for students when their home lives may provide anything but.

The increase in homeless students may be attributable to job losses and other difficulties related to the economy that have affected families, but they may also be the result of some school districts’ improved efforts to identify homeless students.

Factories closing down, forcing families to find other work and moving places, plus the bad economic situation do not bring a bright picture for the future. Because their families move frequently, homeless children tend to change schools and miss classes more often. Homeless students are more likely to repeat grades, be placed in special education or fail academically, all of which can lead to dropping out. Nationally, fewer than 25 percent of homeless students graduate from high school.

The United States has to be on her guard.

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  • Program In West LA Tries To Get The Homeless Back On Their Feet (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
    CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Bobby Kaple checked out the program running out of Venice.Johnny, a homeless man, tells him “It feels like razor blades. It’s really cold out there. The weather is bad.” And it’s going to get worse. Winter hasn’t officially begun.It’s a cold, crisp night in Venice Beach and the sidewalks are sparse. The homeless population is looking for warmth.
  • Oregon’s homeless student population again tops 20,000 students (oregonlive.com)
    Across Oregon, 20,370 students — or about 3.65 percent — were identified by school districts as having unstable housing at some point during the 2011-12 school year, according to data from the Oregon Department of Education’s annual count.
  • Beaverton’s high homeless student numbers may be a positive thing (oregonlive.com)
    Once the students are identified, the center ensures they get free breakfasts and lunches at school, help finding a place to live, transportation to the same school from wherever that new home may be and other resources.
  • Homelessness: An Issue for Tennessee Schools, Students and Families (clarksvilleonline.com)
    The number of homeless students attending public schools in Tennessee has increased substantially since a national economic downturn that began in late 2007, according to a report recently released by the Comptroller’s Offices of Research and Education Accountability.
  • Duluth Schools See More Homeless Students in 2012 (northlandsnewscenter.com)
    School officials say it’s something they are seeing with alarming frequency.
    “That increase has been significant in our community,” said Deborah Wagner, Families in Transition Coordinator with the Duluth School District.In 2012, 88 percent more students are classified as homeless than in 2008.
    +
    “Many kids have difficulty with their studies because of lack of sleep, maybe dietary needs,” said Wagner. “They’re just not able to focus like they would like to.”
  • A Simple Solution to Homelessness (streetsheetsf.wordpress.com)
    The Displaced, an educational campaign designed to “raise awareness about Central Florida’s displaced community,” states that the “average number of displaced people on any given night in Central Florida is 3,970.”
  • New Report on Homelessness: The Good, The Bad, and What You Can Do (citiesspeak.org)
    Sharon Pray, who coordinates homeless services for Portland students, said she and transportation department officials are trying to get 11 students to class in city schools and arrange for three students to attend classes in other school districts.
    Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath will likely mean a sizable number of children displaced not just from their homes but from their schools.
    +
    in January of this year 633,783 people were homeless. This is virtually unchanged since last year when 636,017 people were homeless. Given the soft economic climate, keeping homelessness from increasing is notable. Even more notable however is the continued decline among veterans and those defined as being chronically homeless.
    +
    While recognizing the solution to homelessness in a community can be apparent, implementing that solution can be another matter. To help cities overcome these challenges the 100,000 Homes Campaign was formed in an effort to place 100,000 of the most vulnerable homeless into housing.
  • NJ Schools May Face Influx of Students Displaced by Storm (njspotlight.com)
    Displaced students are also entitled to stay in their new schools for the duration of the year, even if they find permanent housing elsewhere.“With the devastation caused by the hurricane, there will be a significant increase in the number of displaced families,” said Education Commissioner Chris Cerf in the two-page letter to districts.
  • Group looks to find solutions for Duval homeless students (jacksonville.com)
    Allen, now an education consultant with Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of Northeast Florida, shared her story at Matthew Gilbert Middle School as part of a series of discussions focused on educating homeless students.

  • Transportation of homeless students strains local school budgets (bangordailynews.com)

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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One Response to Students in the USA left in the cold

  1. nobody would think “poverty” and USA go together but you are right, there is A LOT of poverty and homelessness in the richest country on Earth.

    Like

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