Number of NJ Homeless Students Jumps 19%

Nationally and in NJ Students Experiencing
Homelessness at All Time High

Number of NJ Homeless Students Jumps 19%The Department of Education (DOE) has released its school year 2013-2014 data on homelessness among students.

The numbers are staggering – 1.36 million school age children are homeless. In New Jersey, there were, 10,303 homeless students in 2013-2014an alarming 19% increase over the prior year.

According to The Washington Post, across the country, there was an 8% increase nationally.

What is further disheartening is that the federal Housing Choice Voucher program is a proven solution in preventing and ending family homelessness.

In a September 15, 2015 Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) blog post, CBPP’s Ehren Dohler writes,

“Vouchers are extremely effective at helping families avoid homelessness. Families in homeless shelters that receive vouchers are 56% less likely to become homeless again over the next 20 months than families receiving no assistance, a recent major study found.”

As many of us settling into the back to school routine with our children, it is hard to think about the children across New Jersey, many living in our own communities, who worry about where they will be sleeping the next night and do not have a kitchen table where they can do their homework, enjoy a family meal and share the news of their days with the adults in their lives.

The DOE data provides one more reason why it is critical that Congress raises the budget caps and restore voucher funding lost due to sequestration.

“ … The number of vouchers has shrunk in recent years even as more families need assistance. Some 85,000 fewer families were using vouchers in December 2014 than two years earlier due to sequestration. Funding that Congress provided in 2014 and 2015 has allowed state and local housing agencies to restore some of the lost vouchers, and the President’s 2016 budget would restore the rest. It includes funding for 67,000 additional vouchers, 30,000 of which would be targeted to homeless families and other vulnerable groups. Congress should fund these vouchers as part of a final spending bill for 2016.”

And according to The Washington Post,

“One of the things we note during recessions is that young families and kids tend to be the ones who go into poverty first, almost like a canary in a coal mine,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children, an advocacy group. “But also in the back end, kids are the last to recover. Because this recession was because of housing, it’s been particularly bad for kids.”

Click here for the CBPP blog post.

Click here for NJ data.

Click here for full DOE data.

Click here for The Washington Post coverage.

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