One in Five Students in Districts 16 and 23 Were Homeless in 2014-15 School Year, Report Reveals
By James Harney
A new study shows that two Central Brooklyn school districts rank first and second in the borough on the most disheartening of lists: Percentages of homeless students.
In the 2014-15 school year, 16 percent of students in Bedford-Stuyvesant’s District 16, and a nearly identical percentage in District 23 in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, were living in homeless shelters, according to the findings of a just-released study by the Manhattan-based Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness (ICPH).
The nonprofit group’s analysis of homelessness in New York City schools — first reported by Kings County Politics — placed District 16 first in Brooklyn and third citywide in percentage of homeless students, and District 23 second in the borough and fourth citywide. In each district, one in five students had experienced homelessness in the past five years, the study revealed.
According to the statistics, of the 1,267 homeless students attending District 16 schools, 54 percent were chronic absentees. Just 11 percent passed math proficiency exams for grades 3-8 and only 14 percent passed English language proficiency tests.
The statistics for District 23 were just as sobering: Of 1,617 homeless students, 62 percent were chronic absentees, 8 percent passed the math proficiency test and only 8 percent passed the English exam.
“Children need stability to thrive,” reads the executive summary of the report, titled “On The Map: The Atlas of Student Homelessness in New York City 2016.”
“But across the United States, more and more children are facing the most extreme form of instability and poverty — homelessness. In no place is this more evident than in New York City, where one out of every eight children attending public school in [school year] 2014–15 had experienced homelessness within the past five school years,” the summary continued.
In the face of the city’s rising homeless problem, the de Blasio administration has allocated $30 million in “supports for students in temporary housing.” The funds are earmarked to pay for the placement of social workers and new health facilities in schools with large homeless student populations.
In addition, the money will cover the cost of hiring “attendance teachers” and literacy coaches to be assigned to family shelters across the city.
“Students in temporary housing are among our most vulnerable populations and we are dedicated to ensuring they receive the same equitable and excellent education as their permanently housed peers,” said Department of Education spokeswoman Toya Holness.
“By building school-based health clinics, creating after-school programs and hiring additional staff to provide ongoing supports and interventions, we are providing additional resources targeted at the schools serving the largest numbers of homeless students across the city,” Holness added
The report’s executive summary concluded that “Children who experience housing instability struggle more academically, not because they have less potential than other children, but because they must constantly deal with the stress of uncertainty — will they have food, clean clothes, a safe place to sleep? Education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and ensuring homeless children have access to a better future.”