America's Youngest Outcasts: 1 in 50 children homeless in America
The National Center on Family Homelessness released a new report, America's Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness, citing one in fifty children in America are homeless each year. Even before the financial and home foreclosure crisis hit, 1.5 million kids were living in homelessness between 2005-2006, and the numbers could get worse as the economy declines according to the report.
According to the new report, the states with the highest number of homeless children in the period studied were Texas (337,105), California (292,624), Louisiana (204,053), Georgia (58,397) and Florida (49,886). The states reporting the smallest populations of homeless children: Wyoming (169), Rhode Island (797), Vermont (1,174), North Dakota (1,181), and South Dakota (1,545). However, the report also ranks the states according to parameters that go beyond their share of homeless children, factoring in, among other things, incidence of such health conditions as asthma and tooth decay. With that framework, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island and North Dakota were rated among states that dealt best with the problem overall. At the bottom of the list: Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, New Mexico and Louisiana.
Families with children comprise roughly one-third of the nation's homeless population. Poverty continues to be a core reason for the crisis, though the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina combined to swell the numbers in Louisiana, Texas and Georgia. Since the 1980s, single mothers have accounted for an increasing share of the homeless population, partly because of increased divorced rates, gender and wage disparities, and the shrinking supply of affordable housing. Officials believe that the current home foreclosure crisis will be adding a new demographic to these statistics: middle-class blacks and Latinos. "It's families that were living pretty independently, doing pretty well. And, through just one event, it was, like, a domino effect — if one part of the puzzle breaks off, then everything breaks off," says Michael Levine, who coordinates social work programs for Hillsborough, Fla.'s 206,000-student school system.
President Obama Pushes for Homelessness Prevention and signed into law the Economic Recovery act, which includes $1.5 billion dollars for homelessness prevention programs that the nation's states and cities are currently awaiting.