Children need stability to thrive. 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 SY 2014–15 had experienced homelessness within the past five school years.
Together, these over 127,000 children would form a school district larger than that of Boston and Seattle combined, and comparable in size to the Unified District of San Diego, CA, the 20th largest school district in the country. Given the scope and direction of homelessness among school-age students, it is imperative for policymakers and educators to know more about homeless students’ experiences in school.
The 2016 On The Map: Atlas of Student Homelessness in New York City builds from where last year’s 2015 Atlas of Student Homelessness left off. It provides a detailed picture of homelessness within the City’s educational system: where homeless students go to school, what kinds of supports they may need, what their academic outcomes look like, what differences exist by the type of homelessness a student experiences, and what the lasting impacts of homelessness are educationally—even after a student’s housing instability has ended. This picture dispels the notions that homeless students are the same as other poor students and that the experience of homelessness is the same across all school districts.
Student homelessness affects the entire city, but the dynamics of homelessness differ locally. Homelessness is experienced one neighborhood, school, or shelter at a time, and each child has a different story. While citywide findings can illuminate the larger context of student homelessness in New York City, they do not provide local texture or opportunity for comparisons between districts and schools. To get closer to the lived experience of homeless schoolage children, the 2016 Atlas of Student Homelessness profiles each of the City’s 32 geographic school districts as well as its two citywide special districts.