The U.S. Department of Education released data this week that showed there are now over 1,000,000 homeless students in this country. That is the first time in the history of this nation that the number of homeless students has been that large. Since the 2009-2010 school year, at least 44 states have seen the number of homeless students grow -- and 15 of those states have seen the number grow by at least 20%. The states with the largest growth in the number of homeless students are Kentucky (up 47%), Utah (47%), Michigan (38%), West Virginia (38%), and Mississippi (35%).
Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, addressed the problem saying, "The severe lack of affordable housing for families has yet to be addressed, and over one million children are paying the price. Everyone has a right to safe, decent, affordable housing. And until we make that right a reality for all Americans, the number of homeless students will keep rising."
But that is only part of the problem of homeless children. That doesn't include infants, toddlers, pre-school age children not enrolled in a public program, or homeless children who are being home-schooled (and yes, there are some). As near as we can figure, there are at least another 600,000 children not counted in the Department of Education study -- bringing the number of homeless children in the United States to more than 1,600,000.
Frankly, it is shocking that the richest nation in the world could have that many homeless children -- and be taking no action to fix the problem. Slashing funding for social programs will only make this problem worse -- and giving bigger tax cuts to rich people, or spending more money on our military (when we already spend between 42% and 45% of the world's total military budget) will not help solve this problem. What has happened to our national conscience? Do we even have one any more?