Heard Around Town

Student homelessness grows in New York City, even as school enrollment declines

Some 104,000 students didn’t have stable housing last year, according to a report from Advocates for Children of New York

The Auburn Family Residence, a shelter for homeless families and individuals in the Fort Greene neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

The Auburn Family Residence, a shelter for homeless families and individuals in the Fort Greene neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Last school year, there were enough New York City public school students who experienced homlessness to nearly fill Yankee Stadium twice over. And it was the seventh year in a row that was the case. That’s according to a new report from Advocates for Children of New York, which found the number of students without a stable home at some point during the year increased by 3% during the 2021-2022 school year to 104,000 kids – even as overall enrollment in the system declined.

Of the students identified as homelesness last year, over 29,000 children spent time in New York City’s shelter system, 69,000 lived with others due to housing loss or economic hardship, and nearly 5,500 were unsheltered, living in abandoned buildings, parks or vehicles instead.These students are largely located in the Bronx, upper Manhattan, and Brownsville and Bushwick in Brooklyn. In total, that’s about 1 in 10 public and charter school students. 

The data, from New York State Education Department records, reflects the months before the arrival of around 20,000 asylum-seekers to New York City – an ongoing migration that has strained the shelter system to capacity. Many of these new arrivals have brought school-age children, meaning the already staggering number of students experiencing homeless seems likely to have already increased a month and a half into the new school year.

Given this increase and the long-standing issues, advocates are urging city leaders to follow through on their commitments to hire additional shelter-based aid to help families navigate the system.

“The (Department of Education) needs to ensure the new migrant students entering the shelter system are enrolled in schools that can meet their needs, while not losing sight of the longstanding issues facing the tens of thousands of students who were already homeless,” Jennifer Pringle, director of Advocates for Children’s Learners in Temporary Housing Project, said in a press release. 

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