Press Statements

No More Homeless Students: VOCAL-NY Responds to New DOE Numbers Showing Rate of Child Homelessness Grew From 2021

October 27, 2022


Mariah McGough, 

Joseph Loonam, 


NEW YORK — Today, the New York City Department of Education and Advocates for Children of New York released data showing that one in 10 students in New York lack a permanent place to call home —enough children to fill Yankee Stadium twice over. In response, VOCAL-NY released the following statement:

“I was in a shelter with two special needs kids during the pandemic — but DHS and the DOE just ‘copy and pasted’ the same policies for everyone. Nobody is seen as an individual. My kids were enrolled in school in a different borough, and we had to commute from Brooklyn to Staten Island every single day, and if we were late my kids were punished despite their unique situation.” said Letasha Betancourt, a leader with VOCAL-NY’s Homelessness Union. “During the pandemic, kids had no escape, and many didn’t leave the shelter for days. If you were not totally on top of them, they fell behind. My experience in the shelter showed me you have to fight on your own, but it shouldn’t be like that. We need our state and city to do better.” 


This is the 7th consecutive year there’s been an increase in the number of children going to school without any adequate housing to return home to. Despite a decrease of school enrollment by 3.2%, there was an increase in homelessness of 3.3%. Of the 104,000 kids who are homeless:

  • 29,000 are in city run shelters
  • 69,000 doubled up in unsafe, overcrowded conditions
  • 5,500 are completely unsheltered – sleeping on the streets, parks and abandoned buildings. 

Overall, about 1 in 10 children are homeless in the NYC school system, but those ratios vary tremendously by geographic region. The southwest Bronx has the worst ratio: 1 in 5 kids have no access to permanent housing, while Queens has seen the worst increase, with 12.3% more kids living with homelessness this year compared to last year.

Homelessness has a dramatic effect on student performance. In the 2020-2021 School year, students who lived in shelters dropped out at three times the rate of those who were permanently housed. Only 60% of these students graduated, and 64% were absent at least 1 in every ten days of school. The DOE has promised to employ 100 “Community Coordinators” to help homeless children navigate the school system, but as of now not a single one has actually been hired. 

And as staggering as these numbers may be, they are almost certainly an undercount. The DOE looks at school years, as opposed to calendar years, meaning that the thousands of children who have been arriving in our city seeking asylum this fall were not counted. Furthermore, with hundreds of thousands of evictions moving through housing court, it must be assumed that many children who were housed last school will lose their housing before next June, if they have not already. 


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