A continuing, rising number of U.S. children experience homelessness each year — one in 30, or 2.5 million, children annually, according to a new study released Monday by the National Center for Family Homelessness (NCFH).
Surprisingly, many larger states such as Florida, Georgia, New York and Texas are rated in the second-to-last percentile of 31 to 40 points, with 41 to 50 points being the category for the worst well-being and risk for homelessness for youths. California ranked in the last percentile.
Various factors drive homelessness. About 20 percent of American children live below the poverty line, according to NCFH director Carmela DeCandia, who co-authored the report. “Poverty is really the driver,” she said to NBC News.
Homeless children show higher rates of developmental and mental health problems. Among those who are old enough to attend school, about 40 percent will struggle academically.
Half of the children who are homeless this year will be under the age of 6.
In a struggling economy, even a small financial setback can put a family at great risk. These setbacks are becoming all too common with stagnant wages and rising living costs.
People of color represent a disproportionate number of the homeless population — 60 percent of shelter residents identify as non-White, and African-Americans are three times more likely to be homeless compared to the overall American population. Black children were 29 times more likely than White children to be in a shelter.
Single motherhood was also another demographic identified in the report as a high-risk category. Up to 50 percent of homeless families were single mothers, often victims of domestic violence, with young children.
S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, http://Facebook.com/TheReporterandTheGirl and visit her website at http://www.SCRhyne.com