Important information from the 2015 State of Metropolitan Housing Report:
During the 2014-15 school year, data from the Kentucky Department of Education and the Indiana Department of Education show that 7,582 students within the Louisville MSA were considered homeless. This includes 6,483 in Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) or 6.5 percent of all enrolled students, down from 8.3 percent in 2013-14 school year.
The total for the MSA includes 518 homeless students in Indiana counties where the percentages of homeless students ranged from 0.8 percent (Harrison County) to 2.7 percent (Scott County) of each county’s total student enrollment.
National data show that the number of homeless students in the U.S. has doubled since before 2008 (Endres and Cidade 2015). Data for the Commonwealth of Kentucky show the highest student homeless rate in the nation at nearly 5 percent of total enrollment (Bassuk et al. 2014). However, it is difficult to determine if this trend is also true for Jefferson County since the criteria used to determine homeless status was drastically changed during the 2013-14 school year.
Despite this, funding for homeless student education in Jefferson County from a federal McKinney-Vento grant decreased from $230,000 in 2014 to $90,000 in 2015. The amount awarded in 2015 is the entire budget for homeless education programs in JCPS (Ryan 2015).
In response, the Metropolitan Housing Commission recommends a focus on families who are experiencing severe housing instability as educational outcomes and attendance for the children in those families is jeopardized due to lack of stable housing; furthermore, MHC recommends funding the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund to help create and sustain housing affordable for working families.
Homelessness isn’t a choice, especially for children. It’s a preventable tragedy we can all help avert with a little love, compassion and giving.