Homeless Children: The “Mostly Unseen”

Faceless Children

According to a November 2013 Huffington Post article 1.6 million “mostly unseen” children are without stable housing in the United States.

The National Center on Family Homelessness reported that 1 in 45 children experience homelessness each year. This number amounts to a staggering 1.6 million children in America. Reports also indicate that 71 percent of homeless children are “doubled up” (living with friends, family or nonrelatives for economic reasons), placing them among the 6.8 million people who stay in living situations they do not control. As such, they could eventually find themselves in a shelter or ultimately on the street.

America’s homeless children are mostly unseen, but they are counted. The troubling part is that these numbers have been climbing for some time now.

In the 2011 school year, enrollment statistics in preschools and K-12 programs reported a figure of 1,168,354 children known to be homeless. These trends show a sharp increase in this figure over the last few years. TheAtlanticCities.com recently reported that this issue is one of national concern, with 43 states reporting recent increases in the number of homeless children. California, New York, Texas and Florida are among the hardest hit.

In the nation’s capital alone, the Public School System reports that over 3,000 of its students are known to be living in homelessness.

from America’s Homeless Children – Unseen, but Counted

Does anyone think this isn’t child abuse?


19 thoughts on “Homeless Children: The “Mostly Unseen”

  1. I’ve been following Dr. Gabor Mate’s work for some time and he has some incredible insight on the effects of stress on children’s cognitive development. I believe it is far more devastating than we have given it credit. Development occurs on a continuum and what he has expressed (with research to back it up) is that even things like morality do not develop normally, so when the child becomes an adult and is expected to adhere to a moral code, they are literally unable to. If this is the case, we can expect to see a worsening of what is occurring now and a potential for genetic and evolutionary disruptions for us as a species. It is time for all hands on deck in my humble opinion. Thank you for writing this!

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    1. The most distressing part of our current dilemma is that we as a nation were well on the way to resolving the most serious effects of Childhood Poverty when Ronald Reagan took office. I was one of the beneficiaries of the New Deal’s emphasis on access to resources. Resources are understood as food, shelter, housing and an education. Thanks to public education and access to multiple resources I was able to evolve as a person and find many ways to contribute to society. A truly democratic people use the wealth of the nation to improve everyo0ne’s life. It’s seems so obvious: A democratic people use the commonwealth to improve everyone’s life.

      I reel from confusion when I ponder it.

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  2. A house is not a home and a foster does not mean care and concern, I suffer from anxiety and go out in the morning at times to play basketball and you should see how many children I see sitting in a park/project since they don’t want to be home

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    1. I think what you’re referencing here is a problem, but it’s not the same one as children who live without access to a house and the stability that comes with having shelter from the elements. Homelessness is not just life without a house. It is often a life of instability, malnutrition and shame. Certainly there are plenty of children who live in homes that are alienating and abusive. Those children in the park deserve better. All children deserve an environment that encourages them to thrive.

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  3. This is heartbreaking, Rob. Homelessness creates so many long-term challenges for children, from food insecurity to educational hurdles as a result of moves, lost time, and learning impeded by stress. Homelessness can cause self-esteem problems and behavioral challenges due to the persistent chaos and anxiety that underlies a child’s daily life . The greatest shame about it is that it’s preventable with a little political will and compassion. 😦


  4. Pertinent post. In my work as a volunteer Board member for an agency that helps homeless working families, I constantly surprise people when I tell them our families have jobs and are homeless. An event such as the loss of hours, one of several jobs, a medical emergency, a car emergency or childcare issue, can push someone out of their home.

    Imagine a child in school trying to do homework, when he or she does not know where he or she will sleep that night. Now, imagine them going to school hungry or without supplies to be a student.

    If we can help the families, we in turn help the children. And, in so doing, we can break the cycle of homelessness for the children. Note, there is a higher propensity to be homeless as an adult, if you were homeless as a child.

    Our agency helps the families climb a ladder, but they must climb it. To get a rental subsidy, they must also pay rent up to 30% of the income for rent and utilities. They must also work with a social worker who will help them budget and decide between wants and needs. We also have Hope Teams of volunteers from churches and synagogues to provide mentorship.

    We try not to do for our families what they can do for themselves. Plus, we measure success. Over 80% of our families are housed and self-sufficient in two years. Of those, over 80% are still housed after two more years on their own. These folks are no different than you or I. They just need help climbing the ladder.

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    1. Once again the obvious is ours to re-discover.

      The obvious: if you deprive children of food and housing you create broken undisciplined adults who don’t know how to care for themselves. This is so obvious that I’m shocked that we as a are still in denial.

      When we the people voted for to cut essential services to poor children we locked almost two generations of people into poverty.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Rob, I just read an excellent piece on focusing on “two generational” homelessness. If we can help the kids, we can reduce their exposure to adult homelessness and save money by breaking the cycle. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Agreed. We keep our families together in a shelter, but only for about 45 to 90 days until they can get their sea legs beneath them. We vet parents and the facility is protected. About 30% of our homeless families are also DV victims, so this protection is essential. Our social workers use a concept called Trauma Informed Care, which attempts to understand the various traumas. Our goal is to get them into a subsidized rent situation for one to two years depending on their fragility.

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