While the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced at the end of October a decline in the number of homeless veterans and chronically homeless individuals, a new report shows that the number of homeless children in the nation has reached an all-time high.
In 2013, almost 2.5 million children, or 1 in every 30 children in the United States, experienced homelessness, according to the America’s Youngest Outcasts report by The National Center on Family Homelessness at the American Institutes for Research. Child homelessness increased 8 percent nationally from 2012 to 2013, and it increased in 31 states and the District of Columbia.
The report was based on the latest state and federal data, including the annual homeless children in public schools count for 2012-13 from the U.S. Department of Education. It attributes the major causes of homelessness for children to the high poverty rate, lack of affordable housing, continuing impacts of the Great Recession, racial disparities, single parenting challenges, and other traumatic experiences.
“Child homelessness has reached epidemic proportions in America,” said Dr. Carmela DeCandia, director of The National Center on Family Homelessness, in a statement. “Children are homeless tonight in every city, county, and state—in every part of our nation.”
The report also examines the impact of homelessness on children. Many homeless school-age children have difficulties in class, miss days, and repeat grades. Up to a quarter of homeless preschool children and 40 percent of school-age children have mental health problems, which require clinical evaluation.
Safe and affordable housing with supportive services as well as education and employment opportunities for parents are among the effective solutions to prevent child homelessness, according to the report.
“Living in shelters, neighbors’ basements, cars, campgrounds, and worse—homeless children are the most invisible and neglected individuals in our society,” said DeCandia. “Without decisive action now, the federal goal of ending childhood homelessness by 2020 will soon be out of reach.”
America’s Youngest Outcasts also provides detailed state information and rankings based on a composite of extent of child homelessness, well-being of the children, risk of child homelessness, and state policy and planning efforts.
The 10 top-ranked states are:
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire
The 10 bottom-ranked states are:
- New Mexico