Texas Has Over 100,000 Homeless Students Statewide

  Student Homelessness Snapshot
November 2016
This snapshot is part of a series analyzing student homelessness in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Visit www.ICPHusa.org for more information.
  • In the 2013–14 school year, Texas had 5,153,702 students enrolled in 1,222 local education agencies (school districts).1
  • That year, there were 111,759 homeless students in the state, making up 2.2% of total enrollment.2
  • Texas had the 3rd highest number of homeless students and the 27th highest rate of student homelessness in the U.S.
  • School districts with the highest rates of student homelessness were Star (27%) and Hull-Daisetta (24%).

Figure 1

Number of Homeless Students and Percent Living Doubled-Up3

By School District, SY 2013–14

In its definition of homelessness, ED includes students in shelter as well as those with no option but to stay with others in overcrowded, often unsafe living conditions.


  • Five school districts had over 3,000 homeless students (San Antonio,Pasadena, Northside, Houston, and Dallas).
  • In 286 school districts, over 95% of homeless students were sleeping in a temporary doubled-up living arrangement. Eighteen school districts had over 1,000 students without a fixed night-time residence.

Figure 2

McKinney-Vento Funding and Number of Homeless Students 

SY 2011–12 to SY 2013–14

The Education for Homeless Children and Youth program, established by McKinney-Vento, is the primary source of federal funding for homeless students in elementary and secondary school.

  • Since SY 2011–12, Texas’s McKinney-Vento funding decreased by 6%, to $5.8 million. Over the same period, the number of homeless students rose 34%, to 111,759. Texas had the 5th highest rate of growth in student homelessness nationwide during that time.
  • On average, Texas received $52.20 per homeless student in SY 2013–14, down from $74.22 in SY 2011–12. Nationally, the per-student average for SY 2013–14 was $49.98.


Figure 3

School Districts Receiving McKinney-Vento Subgrants and Ratio of Homeless Students to Free-Lunch Eligible Students 

By School District, SY 2013–14

Comparing the numbers of homeless and low-income students is a way to gauge how well schools are identifying homeless students.


  • In Texas, 48% of school districts had a ratio of homeless students to free-lunch eligible students smaller than the statewide average (4.1%), including 33 that received subgrants.
  • In SY 2013–14, 10% of Texas’s school districts received McKinney-Vento subgrants, and 63% of the state’s homeless students lived in a district with a subgrant. Non-grantees with the most homeless students included Ector County, Lewisville, and Katy independent school districts.

Figure 4

Proficiency in 3rd Grade Reading and Math 

SY 2013–14

Student performance in third grade is a strong predictor of high school graduation, and has been shown to be affected by family and socioeconomic factors.

Source: U.S. Department of Education. “Homeless Student Enrollment Data by Local Educational Agency: School Year 2013-14” http://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/edfacts/data-files/school-status-data.html; Texas Education Agency, “STAAR Aggregate Data for 2013-14” http://tea.texas.gov/Student_testing_and_accountability/Testing/State_of_Texas_Assessments_of_academic_readiness_(STAAR)/STAAR_Aggregate_Data_For_2013-2014/.
  • In districts with an above-average rate of student homelessness, 37% of third graders were proficient in reading, compared to 45% of students in areas with a below-average rate. In math, 29% of third graders in districts with an above-average rate of student homelessness were judged to be proficient, compared to 36% in areas with a below-average rate.
  • Mullin Independent School District in central Texas had the highest passing rates among districts with above-average homelessness, with 80% of students passing reading and 100% of students passing math.

Figure 5

Homeless Students with Disabilities and Homeless Students with Limited English Proficiency 

By School District, SY 2013–14

Students with disabilities or limited English proficiency are eligible for additional support services but may have difficulty accessing them if they are homeless.


  • In 24 school districts, over 25% of homeless students were identified as having a disability.
  • Two districts had over 1,000 homeless students with limited English proficiency (Northside and Houston), and in five school districts over 60% of all homeless students had limited proficiency (Laredo, San Elizario, Fabens, United, and Fort Hancock).

Figure 6

Where Homeless Students Live, by Population Density 

SY 2013–14

Families in rural areas or small towns often have fewer shelters or services to turn to for assistance.

  • In Texas, 49% of homeless students lived in urban school districts. Among districts in suburbs, six districts had over 1,000 homeless students each (Grand Prairie, Galena Park, McKinney, Pasadena, Clear Creek, and Cypress-Fairbanks).
  • Homeless students were spread proportionately between Texas’s cities, suburbs, towns, and rural areas. Twenty-three percent of homeless students lived in small towns and rural areas, only slightly more than the 22% of all students in these areas.


Homeless students are too often overlooked by policy-makers when talking about education policy. Improving outcomes and supports for homeless students reduces the burden on teachers, parents, and schools who struggle to help students cope with the trauma of homelessness along with the challenges of poverty.

Questions for educators and state/local legislators to consider: 

  • Do you know how many homeless children live in your town? In your state?
  • Is your school district a McKinney-Vento grantee? How much funding does it receive? How is it used?
  • What supports are being provided to help homeless children toward better educational outcomes?
  • Are the challenges that homeless students face, such as chronic absenteeism and difficulty traveling to and from school, being addressed?
  • Are the educational needs specific to homeless students being identified?
  • Does your public school have a dedicated liaison whose priority and focus is the needs of homeless students?
  • Do schools coordinate with the shelter system or service delivery system?
  • Are homeless students being granted access to services to which they are entitled (e.g. transportation, tutoring, special education, health care, food)?
Data tables for the figures seen here will be available at www.ICPHusa.org starting in January 2017. 

Source Notes 

(1) Texas’s local education agencies include charter schools, regional education service agencies, and other state agencies that cannot be mapped but are included in all other data analysis. (2) Unless otherwise noted, statewide data is from National Center for Homeless Education, “Federal Data Summary School Years 2011-12 to 2013-14: Education for Homeless Children and Youth” http://nche.ed.gov/downloads/data-comp-1112-1314.pdf; National Center for Homeless Education, “Texas” http://profiles.nche.seiservices.com/StateProfile.aspx?StateID=51. (3) “Doubled-up” refers to homeless students identified as staying with others when they were initially found eligible under McKinney-Vento law.