America’s Homeless Problem

Reports show that a recession period has led to a spike in displaced youth.

Posted: 12/15/2011 12:39 PM EST

The recession has claimed many casualties over the last few years and recent data on some of the most vulnerable is truly shocking.

 

According to a new study, more than 1.6 million children, or 1 in 45 children in the U.S., are living on the streets, in homeless shelters or motels, or with other families.

 

“There are more homeless children today than after the natural disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which caused historic levels of homelessness in 2006. The recession’s economic devastation has left 1 in 45 children homeless in a year — an increase of 38 percent from 2007 to 2010,” said Ellen Bassuk, president and founder of the National Center on Family Homelessness.

 

States with large Black populations such as Alabama and Mississippi were at the bottom of the report, which did not include a racial or ethnic breakdown. However, a 2010 Child Trends Data Bank report determined that approximately 47 percent of children in homeless families are Black, and that African-American children are disproportionately represented among homeless families.

 

A possible explanation for the large numbers in the Child Trends study is likely the economic downturn. African-Americans have been more harshly affected by unemployment and are losing their homes at twice the rate of whites.

 

Homeless children experience a variety of hardships, including hunger, poor health and limited academic proficiency. To combat the negative effects, the National Center on Family Homelessness says there shouldn’t be further cuts in federal and state programs that help homeless children and families.

 

“Deeper cuts will only create more homelessness that will cost us more to fix in the long run,” says Bassuk.

 

The study, released Tuesday, looks at trends in child homeless from 2006 to 2010 using data and research on child homelessness, child well-being, risk for homelessness and state policy and planning efforts.

 

The bottom ranked states are as follows:

 

41. Georgia

42. Florida

43. Nevada

44. Louisiana

45. New Mexico

46. California

47. Arizona

48. Arkansas

49. Mississippi

50. Alabama

 

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(Photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

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