Did you know:
The high school graduation rate for homeless children in California is less than 25%. With your help, we can change that!
Reliable and accurate statistics regarding the homeless population are hard to come by. This, in part, has to do with problems of definition. Who exactly is considered homeless and who is counted by the homeless census? Moreover, many statistics capture a single point in time and, therefore, do not include all those who experience homelessness in a given year. This issue is compounded by the fact that many homeless individuals and families are highly transient. Nevertheless, although they vary somewhat between different reports and publications, the numbers all point to an alarmingly large homeless population in the United States. Moreover, there is widespread agreement that the homeless population in the US is growing and that more families and children than ever are affected by homelessness.
A Snapshot of Homelessness in California
With over 37 million residents, California is the most populous state in the country. As reported by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, California has been disproportionately affected by the housing crisis and also faces high levels of unemployment and foreclosure. Additionally, "over 80 percent of households below the federal poverty line in…California spend more than 50 percent of income on rent" (p. 2) and, as a result of these conditions, California has a large population of doubled up families (people living with family or friends for economic reasons). Add to these factors California's temperate climate, and it is not surprising that California has the largest homeless population in the country (p. 12). Specifically, there are 133,129 homeless individuals in California, or 36.02 homeless persons per 10,000 (p. 12). In 2009, the National Center on Family Homelessness published America's Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness. Included in the document is a report card for each state with comprehensive information related to child homelessness including statistics, availability of healthcare, educational achievement, and policies. According to the report, there are 292,624 homeless children in California; roughly 3% of all children in California are homeless. Among homeless children, 122,902 are under the age of 6, 135,766 are enrolled in grades K-8, and 33,956 are enrolled in high school. In California, the high school graduation rate for homeless children is less than 25%. The loss in lifetime earnings that results from more than 75% of homeless youth in California not graduating from high school is $5 billion dollars, and the loss of contributions to Californian society is $3.2 billion.
Additional information about Homelessness
National Center on Family Homelessness. (2009). America’s Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness. Newton, MA. Available at: http://www.homelesschildrenamerica.org/index.php
National Coalition for the Homeless. (2009). Who is Homeless? Available at: http://www.nationalhomeless.org
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. (2011). Information about Homeless Children and Youth. Available at: http://nlchp.org
Sermons, M. W., & Witte, P. (2011). State of Homelessness in America: National Alliance to End Homelessness and Homelessness Research Institute. Available at: http://www.endhomelessness.org
The United States Conference of Mayors. (2010). Hunger and Homelessness Survey: A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities, A 27‐City Survey. Available at: www.usmayors.org
United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. (2010). Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. Available at: http://www.ich.gov
U.S. Department of Education. McKinney‐Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001, Section 725. Available at: http://www.ed.gov