New data distributed on Wednesday showed that over 104,000 students in New York City’s public school system were homeless over the last school year. The overall number of students enrolling in public schools in the city went down at the same time. Almost one in ten students in the city were living in conditions that were not their own homes, The New York Times reported.
Around 30,000 students were in shelters, and around 69,000 were living with other families. In addition, 5,500 youth were staying in parks, abandoned structures, and vehicles. Over 60% of homeless children who were living in temporary housing facilities were “chronically absent” last year, meaning they were gone for at least 10% of the days of school.
The homelessness figure went up 3% from the year before, and this marks the seventh year in a row that the number has been over 100,000 students. The number didn’t include newly-arrived migrant children who are homeless.
The issue is one that continues to be a concern for New York City, especially as students from all areas of life struggle with schooling after the pandemic lockdowns.
Homelessness has plagued the city for decades. Over 63,000 people are sleeping in shelters every night, and the number of adults doing so is 86% more than it was a decade ago, according to The Bowery Mission. The record number of people in public shelters was set in 2019 at 61,415. However, that record was broken this month as the number reached 62,174.
Last month, Democratic Mayor of New York City Eric Adams questioned the very nature of New York City’s shelter situation as migrants arrived in the city. New York City has a “right to shelter,” which means that all homeless people can have access to a public shelter.
“In this new and unforeseen reality, where we expect thousands more to arrive every week going forward, the city’s system is nearing its breaking point,” Adams said in a statement. “As a result, the city’s prior practices, which never contemplated the busing of thousands of people into New York City, must be reassessed.”
The mayor’s chief counsel later said, “we are not reassessing the right to shelter. We are reassessing the city’s practices around the right to shelter.”
According to a Market Place report, inflation and the increased costs of housing in the city is making life even more difficult for people.
“Those jolts to the economy, they’re impacting real people’s lives and putting them on one side of homelessness or the other,” James Winans, CEO of the Bowery Mission, said, per Market Place. “I think when your housing is unstable, and your employment is unstable, it just follows that any increase in the day-to-day cost of living is going to impact everyone, including those most on the margins.”