More Children and Youth Homeless Due to Economic Crisis

Blogger-advocate Diane Nilan has called my attention to a new report on the impacts of the economic crisis on homeless children and youth. As she says , “it’s a bad-news report,” but constructive too.

The report focuses on the results of a survey of local school district homeless liaisons across the country. These document the many challenges that schools and community agencies are facing as more and more families become homeless.

The report also indicates the long-term impacts of homelessness on children and youth. They include increased risks of physical and mental health problems, developmental problems and poor academic performance. Preventing these, as the report says, is “an investment in us” and our country’s future.

The report makes six major recommendations to the new Administration and Congress.

  • Expanded funding for the McKinney-Vento Act’s Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program, which enables homeless students to stay in their “home” schools and receive the support they need to attend and succeed
  • Increased funding for Head Start and child care to support the healthy development and future academic achievement of homeless (and other poor) children
  • Additional funding for the Emergency Shelter Grant Program, which helps local governments and nonprofits provide shelter and services for homeless people and prevent homelessness through financial and legal assistance to at-risk individuals and families
  • Expansion of the federal housing voucher program–something also recommended by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the Coalition for Human Needs and the Center for American Progress
  • Funding for the new National Housing Production Trust Fund, which will increase the availability of affordable housing for very low-income individuals and families
  • Changing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of “homeless” so that all homeless families will be eligible for the assistance they urgently need

You can add your support to these recommendations by writing or phoning your representatives in Congress. Their contact information is available through the main House of Representatives and Senate websites.

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