Half of Homeless Students in U.S. Surveyed Reported Sleeping in Parks, Abandoned Buildings Bus Stations and other Public Places
On August 22, 2018, Inside Edition reported on how West Side High School in Newark provided a laundry for homeless students. The full report was entitled “New Jersey High School Installs Free Laundry After Homeless Students are Bullied for Dirty, Smelly Clothes.”
As many students across New Jersey had back to school this month with backpacks full of school supplies, there are students who will be unable to afford school supplies, students who live in shelters and students who live bouncing around between the houses of friends.
While many students and their families take for granted having homes with closets full of clothes to wear to school and washing machines to clean those clothes, some students worry about what they will wear to school the next day and will those clothes be clean.
Reporting about West Side High School in Newark, Inside Edition reported “After watching homeless students being shamed and bullied because their clothes smelled, West Side High School Principal Akbar Cook decided what he needed was washing machines and dryers.”
“It took him two years, but he secured a $20,000 grant and labor help from the Newark school district to renovate an old locker room into a free laundromat.”
“Five washers and five dryers, I got a … sink right here,” he proudly said.
Because of Principal Cook’s perseverance, his homeless high school students in Newark will now be able to begin in each school day with a clean and fresh start.
A study released in 2016 found that more than 1.3 million public school students across America were identified as homeless in 2012- 2013, a number that has been rising since 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
The report, Hidden in Plain Sight: Homeless Students in America’s Public Schools, written by Civic Enterprises with Hart Research Associates provides insight into how educators, policymakers and community organizations can help more students cope with homelessness, graduate from high school and get on a path to adult success.
Key survey findings provide a glimpse into the challenges homeless students face.
- 78% of young people surveyed say homelessness was something they experienced more than once.
- 61% say they were never connected with any outside organization for support while homeless; 87% of those who were connected found the help valuable.
- 67% (approx. two-thirds) say they were uncomfortable talking with people at their school about their housing situation and related challenges.
- 62% say proof of residency requirements and 56% say lack of cooperation between their new and old schools posed a major challenge for them while changing schools.
- 54% say concrete supports (housing, food, transportation) and emotional supports are equally important.
- 50% say they slept in a car, park, abandoned building, bus station or other public place.