Giving Compass' Take:

• Federal reports from the Department of Education show a jump in student homelessness in the last decade, especially among K-12 students. 

• What are schools currently doing to address this issue? How can funders get involved? 

• Read about how this teacher training addresses school homelessness. 


Student homelessness has hit an all-time high following a significant spike over the past three years, with 20 states experiencing a surge of 10 percent or more, new federal data released last week indicate. The data also found that students who experience homelessness are significantly less likely to graduate from high school.

More than 1.3 million public school students experienced homelessness during the 2016-17 school year, a 7 percent increase over three years ago and the largest number ever recorded. Over the past decade, the population of students experiencing homelessness has spiked by a startling 70 percent.

Several factors might have contributed to the growth in student homelessness. Among them are lingering effects of the recession, local economic issues, natural disasters, and the opioid epidemic, said Barbara Duffield, executive director of the nonprofit SchoolHouse Connection, which works to address homelessness through education.

Meanwhile, 14 percent of homeless youth resided in shelters, 6 percent lived in hotels or motels, and 4 percent were identified as unsheltered. The unsheltered category saw the most growth, increasing by 27 percent over the three-year period.

When the Education Department releases data on the 2017-18 school year, it will include graduation data from all states, as required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. That new data, Duffield said, will provide “a better understanding that students who experience homelessness have challenges over and above simply being poor.”

Coinciding with the new federal data, a separate report offering a snapshot of student homelessness across the 50 states was released by the Education Leads Home campaign, a partnership between SchoolHouse Connection, Civic, America’s Promise Alliance, and the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness. The report includes state-level data on student homelessness, showing that New York has the highest rate of student homelessness nationally.

Read the full article about a jump in student homelessness by Mark Keierleber at The 74