REPORT: Record high number of NYC students are homeless

According to a new report, roughly 1 in 9 New York City students experienced homelessness in 2022, a new record high.

The report, by the non-profit group Advocates for Children of New York, says that 119,320 students experienced homelessness during the 2022-23 school year, the eighth straight year in which more than 100,000 public school students were identified as homeless. 

The percentage of students without permanent housing rose across all the city's five boroughs, with students in the Bronx experiencing the highest rates of homelessness, with 1 in every 6 students lacking a permanent home. 

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"No child in New York City should be homeless, but until we reach that goal, access to a quality education is our best possible tool for ensuring those living in shelter don’t re-enter the system as adults," said Kim Sweet, the Executive Director of Advocates for Children.

Homelessness can make academic success incredibly difficult for students, driving up absenteeism and dropout rates. Just 22 percent of students in grades 3-8 who were experiencing homelessness reached proficiency on the State English Language Arts (ELA) exam.

Last year, New York City hired 100 Community Coordinators to help students and families living in shelters connect with educational service and supports, including newly-arrived immigrant students. However, the coordinators were hired using temporary funds that will run in less than a year.

"Losing the shelter-based Community Coordinators would almost certainly increase the already sky-high rates of chronic absenteeism and make it even more difficult for students in shelter to succeed in school," Sweet said. "The City should be increasing shelter-based public school staff to meet the tremendous need—and at the very least needs a plan to sustain these critical positions."

Advocates say they are worried that Mayor Eric Adams' new plan to limit stays in shelters to just 60 days for newcomer families will only exacerbate the problem by forcing children to move during the school year, possibly causing changes in their commute to school or the school they attend.

"While students who move to a new shelter placement have the right to stay in their original school, we know from our experience working with families that this is often a right in name only," said Jennifer Pringle, director of AFC’s Learners in Temporary Housing project. "Between delays in arranging busing, a shortage of bus drivers, unreasonably long commute times, and other obstacles, parents often feel they have no choice but to uproot their children from schools they love when they move shelters."