On February 13th 2019, the US House of Representatives Finance Services Committee held the first ever full-committee Hearing on Homelessness. Family Promise and our partners advocating for children and youth experiencing homelessness applaud the efforts of Chairwoman Waters as well as the bipartisan members of the Committee to learn more about and address the important issue of homelessness.
While the information provided during the hearing was helpful, it very much focused on a limited perspective of homelessness. The majority of testimonies provided used only HUD data, which drastically undercounts children and reflects an incorrect reduction in family homelessness. The day prior to the hearing, the U.S. Department of Education released new data showing that child and youth homelessness continues to skyrocket in the United States. The U.S. Department of Education identified 1,355,821 students experiencing homelessness in the 2016-2017 school year. This is the highest number on record, representing a 7 percent increase from the past three academic years, and a 70 percent increase over the past ten academic years. The number of unaccompanied homeless youth – youth who experience homelessness on their own and are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian – increased by 25 percent over the past three years.
Because this information was missing from the hearing, Family Promise, together with First Focus Campaign for Children, SchoolHouse Connection, and National Network for Youth, sent follow-up communications to Committee members emphasizing the urgent need to address child, youth, and family homelessness.
We remain concerned that most of these reported children and youth experience invisible forms of homelessness and therefore cannot not get assessed for federal homeless assistance services. Evidence shows that homeless children and youth who do not meet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of homelessness experience the same poor outcomes as those who do.
For more information on data discrepancies, please click here.
Family Promise and our advocate partners hope to see legislation and policy that reduce these barriers to services so that the most vulnerable homeless children, youth, and families can get the assistance they need to transition to housing stability. We ask all concerned with this critical issue to step forward with us to help shed light on the grim realities facing children and their families experiencing homelessness.
To get involved in our advocacy efforts, please contact Stacy Pollard, Family Promise Regional Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.