Of the 1.35 million students identified as experiencing homelessness nationwide, over 1 million (76%) were living “doubled up.” This means that they were not in a shelter, but were staying with family or other persons due to a loss of housing or economic hardship. These students and their families are often referred to as the “hidden homeless” because their unique circumstances make them difficult to find and include in homelessness counts. Between the 2013–14 and 2016-17 school years, the number of homeless doubled-up students nationwide rose by 4%, even while total enrollment of all students held stable.
The under-identification of doubled-up students, who may not know that they are eligible for McKinney-Vento services, can hinder the ability to effectively target resources to students in need. This ranking shows how well states identify and enroll homeless children who are doubled-up by measuring the ratio of doubled-up students enrolled to the number of low-income children (children in families earning less than the federal poverty level) in all grades. By comparing the number of homeless and low-income students, it is possible to control for varying levels of poverty between states. States with higher ratios may be more likely to have thorough identification practices that actively engage students that may be experiencing homelessness regardless of whether they reside in a shelter.
Although the Department of Education considers doubled-up students eligible for McKinney-Vento supports, the Department of Housing and Urban Development limits its definition of homelessness to those in shelter or sleeping in places not fit for human habitation. As a result, doubled-up families, who already lack access to the programs and services found in many shelters, may not qualify for many forms of assistance otherwise intended for homeless students.
Hover over a state and click through the years to see how the rankings have changed over time. Click on a state to learn more.
Oregon identified the highest percentage of low-income students who were homeless and in doubled-up living arrangements, with 18% of students sleeping doubled up during the 2016–17 school year. Montana, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia doubled or nearly doubled the percentage of low-income students who were identified as homeless and doubled up. Six states and the District of Columbia identified more than 15% of their low-income student populations as sleeping doubled up, while Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut identified less than 4%.