Children and Homelessness
Estimating the number of homeless people nationwide is a difficult and challenging task. Moreover, estimates can vary widely reflecting differences in definition and counting methodology. The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that as much as 1% of the U.S. population, more than 3 million persons, are likely to experience homelessness during a year, with more than one-third being children. Leading causes of homelessness include poverty, shortage of affordable housing, job loss, domestic violence, disability, mental illness and declining availability of public assistance. In recent years, increased homelessness has also been fueled by the national economic recession and the continuing foreclosure crisis.
According to The 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) (Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)):
During the past three years, annual point-in-time (PIT) surveys conducted on a single night each January estimated between 643,000-672,000 homeless persons nationwide.
HUD’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), which tracks the number of sheltered homeless people, estimates that 1.6 million people nationwide used an emergency shelter or transitional housing program during October 1, 2008 – September 30, 2009.
For the 2008-09 school year, public schools reported over 956,000 registered homeless students, a 20 percent increase from 2007-08. Over 617,000 students were reported served by McKinney-Vento sub-grants in 2008-09, a 31 percent increase from 2007-08. These numbers are higher than numbers from HUD because the Department of Education counts children who are doubled up or living in motels or other temporary habitation and HUD does not.
National Demographic Profile
The following provides a demographic profile of homeless individuals from the annual nationwide Point-in-Time surveys and the Homeless Management Information System:
2009 Nationwide Point-in-Time Surveys
- 63% of homeless people were in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs and 37% were "living on the street."
- Blacks accounted for a disproportionate share of people experiencing sheltered homelessness, accounting for 39% of the total sheltered homeless population vs. 12.4% of the total U.S. population in 2008.
- 37% of homeless persons were in families. A family is defined as a household that includes an adult 18 years of age or older and at least one child.
- 17.2% of individuals were considered "chronically homeless."
2009 HMIS Count of Sheltered Homeless People
- 63.7% of adults were male
- 50% were white and 39% black
- 25% were Hispanic
- 22% were under the age of 18 and 61% were 18-50
- 64% were from single person households, 10% from 2 person households, 10% from 3 person households, 8% from 4 person households and 8% from households with 5 or more persons
- 11% of adults were veterans
- 38% of adults were disabled
Pinellas County Homeless Students
The Homeless Education Assistance Team (H.E.A.T.) of Pinellas County Schools provides educational and social work services to homeless children and families. For additional information on H.E.A.T., visit http://www.pcsb.org/homeless/.
Based on preliminary data for the 2009-10 school-year, 2,186 Pinellas County students, 1.9% of the total public school student membership, experienced homelessness at some time during the year, a 17% increase over the prior year. The chart below shows the trend in homeless students for Pinellas and Florida.
- The homeless student count is an unduplicated count of students who were homeless at any time during the school-year, even if they were no longer homeless at a later date in the school-year.
- 85% of students who were registered as homeless in the 2008-09 school-year were no longer registered as homeless in the 2009-10 school-year - 82% of the registered 2008-09 homeless students were still in the Pinellas school district in 2009-10.
- 51% of homeless students were white non-Hispanic, 30% were black non-Hispanic and 9% were Hispanic. Since black non-Hispanic students comprise 19% of the 2009-10 student membership, black students experienced a far higher rate of homelessness than other student racial/ethnic groups.
- 63% of homeless students were in Pre-K or elementary school, 21% were in middle school and 16% were in high-school.
The Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless (PCCH) conducts an annual point-in-time count and survey of Pinellas County’s homeless population. The survey is conducted during the last week in January. The 2009 survey, the latest survey for which results are currently available, was conducted on January 28, 2009. The results of the survey are summarized below:
- The number of homeless youth under the age of 18 (sheltered and unsheltered) totaled 1,944, 102% above 2007 (the last prior survey for which results are available).
- Homeless youth accounted for 31% of all homeless persons in 2009 vs. 19% in 2007.
- The total number of homeless individuals was 6,235, an increase of 20% above 2007.
- 66% were male and 34% were female
- 63% were white and 30% black
- 6% were Hispanic
- 18% were veterans
- 43% had one or more long-term disabilities, primarily physical/medical, mental health/emotional or alcohol/drugs.
- 44% of the total homeless population lived in Pinellas County more than five years. An additional 17% lived in Pinellas from one to five years and 30% three months to one year.
- 46% of homeless individuals previously lived in St. Petersburg, 10% in Clearwater and 18% in other Pinellas County areas. Other areas included 10% from other Florida counties and 1% out-of-state; 15% was unknown.
- Main locations where unsheltered homeless stay are St. Petersburg (46%), Clearwater (20%), Pinellas Park/Lealman (10%), Tarpon Springs (6%) and Largo (5%).
- 38% of unsheltered persons were homeless for the first time. An additional 34% have been homeless 2-3 times and 28% 4 or more times.
- 86% of individuals reported financial reasons as the primary reason for being homeless. However, many individuals checked more than one reason for being homeless. Secondary factors included alcohol or drugs (23%), eviction or foreclosure (19%), family breakup (22%), release from jail or prison (10%) and emotional problems (14%).
For additional information on Pinellas County’s homeless, visit the website of the Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless at http://www.pinellashomeless.org.
Homeless Youth is a Headline Indicator of the Florida Cabinet for Children and Youth.
Click link below for a list of the Cabinet’s Headline Indicators
- Religious Community Services - Grace House
- All Neighborhood Family Centers
- Alpha House of Pinellas – Residential
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