Featured Research

We bring new insights on homelessness from research. Here are some of the most impactful and important studies.

Youth-Supportive Transitional Housing Programs As An Essential Resource for Addressing Youth Homelessness

This report shares new data demonstrating that transitional programs for youth and young adults are effective, and an essential and core element of efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness. These data underscore the vitality of transitional living programs with robust supportive services as an effective pathway from homelessness for young people, including families with children headed by young parents. Other findings demonstrate that transitional programs have positive outcomes in both rural and urban areas, and for minors as well as young adults. 

Six Findings from Pre-Pandemic School Homelessness Data That Should Inform Reopening and Recovery

The National Center for Homeless Education (the U.S. Department of Education’s technical assistance center) recently released a three-year summary of school data on children and youth experiencing homelessness, including the 2018-2019 school year (the most recent school year for which it has compiled data). The data paint a picture of homelessness in our nation’s public schools in the year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing important baseline data and findings that should inform our actions now, as schools move toward reopening and recovery. This new SchoolHouse Connection article describes six of the most salient findings, and their relevance to the pandemic response and recovery.

Warning Signs: 2019-20 Homelessness FAFSA Data Signals Impact of the Pandemic

Compared to last year, FAFSA numbers are down about 9% for all students, providing cause for concern. Now, recently released FAFSA numbers for unaccompanied homeless youth provide early indications of the impact of the pandemic on the higher education prospects of youth experiencing homelessness. These findings demand attention and action.

New Data Emphasizes the Challenges Students Experiencing Homelessness Face in Graduating High School

This week, the U.S. Department of Education released data on high school graduation rates for the 2018-19 school year, revealing an all-time high of 85.8 percent. For the second year in a row, the U.S. Department of Education did not release a national graduation rate for students experiencing homelessness. Cohort counts from 49 states and the District of Columbia, however, show a national graduation rate of 67.7 percent, up slightly from 67.5 percent in 2018.

Charter Schools and Students Experiencing Homelessness: Practices and Recommendations for Success

There are approximately 1.5 million K-12 students and an additional 1.4 million children under the age of six experiencing homelessness across the United States. While many of these students attend traditional public schools, a growing number, at least 60,000, are enrolled in charter schools. The purpose of this report is to begin to paint a clearer picture of the experiences and outcomes of students experiencing homelessness enrolled in charter schools. In this document we offer basic information about the McKinney-Vento Act, case studies highlighting best practices across charter schools and networks, and key questions for charter school educators, administrators, authorizers, support staff, advocates, and others.

Lost in the Masked Shuffle & Virtual Void: Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Amidst the Pandemic

New survey data suggests that an estimated 420,000 fewer children and youth experiencing homelessness have been identified and enrolled by schools so far this school year -- despite evidence of increasing homelessness, and despite proactive identification efforts by many school district homeless liaisons. This decrease in homeless student enrollment, combined with previous estimates of under-identification, means that as many as 1.4 million children and youth experiencing homelessness may be un-identified and unsupported by their school during the pandemic.

#RealCollege During the Pandemic

A new survey by the Hope Center examines the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and school closures on the security of students’ basic needs. It found that 11% of students at two-year institutions and almost 15% at four-year institutions were experiencing homelessness due to the pandemic. The vast majority of homeless students were couch-surfing or staying in other temporary accommodations. On-campus students and off-campus students experienced similar rates of food insecurity (34% vs. 31%) and homelessness during the pandemic (17% vs. 15%). The report also found significant disparities in the pandemic’s impact on the security of college students’ basic needs, with the highest rates among Indigenous, Black, and Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian students.

Opportunities for Impact: Child and Youth Homelessness, Schools, and COVID-19

In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, SchoolHouse Connection conducted a survey of McKinney-Vento Liaisons, homeless service providers, early childhood and post-secondary education organizations, and other non-profits to determine what needs existed at that point in the crisis. The most pressing needs varied by level of education and organization type.

The Lasting Impact of Homelessness on Infants

Research published in Health Affairs finds that the impact of homelessness on infants goes beyond the effects of poverty, and lasts throughout early childhood. Across most indicators, children who experienced homelessness as an infant were more likely to have health problems, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits than children in poverty who did not experience infant homelessness. Through the end of the study (at age 6), infants exposed to homelessness still had higher rates of asthma and used emergency departments at higher rates.

ZERO TO THREE on Early Childhood Homelessness

SchoolHouse Connection’s own Dr. Grace Whitney, Director of Early Childhood Initiatives, is guest editor of the Journal’s March issue, which includes a sampling of policies, practices, challenges, and opportunities on homelessness facing the infant–toddler field today. The authors cover topics ranging from early care and early childhood programs to parenting supports, housing, pediatrics, and young families.

How Early Family Experiences Lead to Youth Homelessness

A new report by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago finds that youth homelessness has its origins in early family experiences, including family homelessness. The analysis, based on in-depth interviews with 215 young people, found that: 100% experienced...

Risk and Resilience: Differences in Risk Factors and Health Outcomes Between Homeless and Non-Homeless Students in 2017 YRBS Data

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) was first developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1990 to assess the health risk behaviors of youth and adults in the United States. For the first time since the survey has been widely administered, the 2017 YRBS optional question list included two questions pertaining to homelessness. Using this YRBS data from 17 states (Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin), we conducted an analysis of differences in seven self-reported risk factors and health outcomes between high school students experiencing homelessness and those not experiencing homelessness. Read the entire paper here.

Research Reinforces Connections Among Homelessness, Childhood, and Education

Recent research further proves the importance of childhood, early care, and education in efforts to prevent and end homelessness. This blog post summarizes four new studies on homelessness during infancy; the Adverse Childhood Experiences of homeless adults; the employment of families during and after stays in homeless shelters; and the impact of Rapid Rehousing on the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

New Research: Youth Homelessness is Family Homelessness

Chapin Hall released Missed Opportunities: Pregnant and Parenting Youth Experiencing Homelessness in America. This research underscores the inextricable connection between youth and family homelessness: family homelessness as a precursor to youth homelessness, and youth homelessness as a precursor to family homelessness.

Youth Homelessness and Higher Education: An Analysis of FAFSA Data

SchoolHouse Connection released “Youth Homelessness and Higher Education: An Analysis of FAFSA Data.” The report examines a critical component of the basic needs of unaccompanied homeless youth in higher education: financial aid. It also includes recommendations for policy and practice.

Food and Housing Insecurity among students at NC State University

On March 15, 2018, North Carolina State University released the results of a student survey, Food and Housing Security Among NC State Students. The survey found that 14% of NC students have faced food insecurity in the past 30 days, and that 9.6% experienced homelessness over the past year. The report includes an evaluation of programs specifically developed to address food and housing security. NC State offers a variety of support services for students, including an on-campus food pantry; a national program that provides academic, personal and career support for under-resourced undergraduate students; and on-campus emergency housing.

Higher Education Matters: Three New Studies

Post-secondary education is increasingly necessary to obtain a job that pays enough to afford housing. As such, it is a critical strategy to help children and youth escape homelessness, and prevent future homelessness. Three new studies shed light on the challenges faced by many students in their efforts to obtain a college education, as well as the economic imperative of educational attainment beyond high school.

Study of Student Basic Needs

Published in February 2018, CSU’s Study of Student Basic Needs is the most comprehensive mixed-methods study of university students’ unmet basic needs and the relationship to student success ever completed within a 4-year higher education system.

Groundbreaking Research on Youth Homelessness: Youth Without a High School Degree, Young Parents, and Low-Income at Highest Risk

On November 14, 2017, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago released the results of a groundbreaking national survey, Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America. The research, part of the Voices of Youth Count (VoYC) initiative, challenges many assumptions in current homelessness policy and practice – not only for addressing youth homelessness, but for all forms of homelessness.

Good News? Public Schools Reported More Homeless Students in 2015-2016

Preliminary data[i] released by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) last month indicate a significant jump in the number of unaccompanied homeless youth (UHY) reported by public schools, and a modest increase in the overall numbers of children and youth experiencing homelessness. As the number of UHY identified by schools surpasses 100,000 for the first time ever, and the overall number shows no signs of abating, it’s time to rethink how data on children and youth experiencing homelessness are reported and interpreted by the media, policymakers, advocates, and the public.

New Study on Homelessness Among Community College Students

On March 15, Wisconsin HOPE Lab released the results of a national study on hunger and homelessness among community college students. The study, Hungry and Homeless in College: Results of a Study of Basic Needs Insecurity in Higher Education, found that one-third of community college students are hungry and 14 percent are homeless.

The Well-being of Young Children after Experiencing Homelessness

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report entitled “Well-being of Young Children after Experiencing Homelessness.”  The study collected data from families at the time they were in emergency shelters, followed the families over the next 20 months, and then surveyed them again, collecting information about the family, the parents, and up to two focal children in each family.

New Report on the Health and Well-being of Homeless Teens

On March 13, the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness (ICPH) released "More Than a Place to Sleep: Understanding the Health and Well-Being of Homeless High School Students." The study demonstrates that teens who experience homelessness have unequivocally worse health outcomes than housed teens – outcomes that threaten their lives and jeopardize their ability to finish school and transition to a stable adulthood.

New Report Highlights FAFSA Challenges for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

This SchoolHouse Connection report is based on newly available U.S. Department of Education (ED) data from the 2015-2016 Application Cycle of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The data demonstrate the on-going problems young people experiencing homelessness face in accessing financial aid, and therefore higher education.

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