Number of Homeless Children On the Rise

According to a new report, children are suffering the most from this poor economy with one out of every 45 children in the U.S. now living either on the streets or in shelters.

USA Today is reporting that according to the National Center on Family Homelessness, 1.6 million children are currently homeless in America, a number which represents a 33 percent increase from the last time these statistics were measured in 2007. These homeless children are either living on the streets, in homeless shelters, motels or “doubled up” in homes with another family.

“This is an absurdly high number,” says Ellen Bassuk, president of the Center. “What we have new in 2010 is the effects of a man-made disaster caused by the economic recession. … We are seeing extreme budget cuts, foreclosures and a lack of affordable housing.”

The Center’s report is considerably more bleak than a similar report prepared by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which reported a 28 percent increase in homeless families in the past year – from 131,000 to 168,000. But these numbers are lower because HUD only counts children who are living on the street or in emergency shelters.

“It’s a narrower standard of homelessness,” Dennis Culhane, a social policy professor at the University of Pennsylvania told USA Today. But the bottom line is the same, he says.

There are too many homeless families in America.

The Center’s study is a state-by-state report card that looks at four years’ worth of Education Department Data to assess how homeless children are faring based on variables such as the state’s wages, poverty and foreclosure rates, cost of housing, and the kind of programs that are available for homeless families.

The states where homeless children fare the best are Vermont, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Maine.

The worst states for homeless children are Southern states with already high poverty rates such as Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, as well as in states hit hard by foreclosures and job losses, such as Arizona, California and Nevada.

“People had savings or unemployment and that’s run out,” said Shelly Jordan, a case manager for the homeless in Hattiesburg, Mississippi where it’s become common for two-parent households or families headed by unemployed professionals to seek city shelters when the money runs out.

“This is their last resort,” she said.

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