Study: Rise in number of NYC schoolchildren living in shelters

A heartbreaking study reveals that the number of New York City public school students living in homeless shelters has increased significantly over the past five years. The number of homeless students reached just about 33,000 in the 2015-16 school year, an increase of about 15 percent from the year before.

Liza Pappas of the New York City Independent Budget Office conducted the research.

"Because of the unique stressful situation of living in the shelter situation they also had more socio-emotional needs inside schools," Pappas said. "They're not able to rely on the permanence that their non-homeless peers may be able to rely on."

Pappas added that the increase in the number of students in the shelter system is not evenly distributed across school systems. At an overwhelming majority of city schools, few spend the night at a homeless shelter. But at 45 schools, more than 10 percent of students have been homeless in each of the last five years. The study also found that homeless students are clustered geographically.

"Over 40 percent of students who are in the shelter system are attending schools in the Bronx," Pappas said.

Last year, the city set aside $10.3 million to support homeless students by hiring social workers, people to help with attendance, and others. But in January, advocates were upset to learn that money was not put back in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. In April, the city changed its position and restored the $10.3 million to the budget. The question: is that enough?

"The city has to assess whether the support to schools that are serving large numbers of homeless students is sufficient, just like they have to assess whether the support schools in turn provide their students are sufficient," Pappas said.

A spokesperson for the city's Education Department sent Fox 5 a statement highlighting what the funding will go toward.

"We are hiring more social workers through the Bridging the Gap initiative, expanding Afterschool Reading Club, providing admissions supports to improve participation rates, and offering more school-based health services," Toya Holness said in the statement.