Nearly One in Seven Chicago Students Experiences Homelessness

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

The UChicago Inclusive Economy Lab (formerly Poverty Lab), housed at the Harris School of Public Policy, has released the results of a comprehensive new study, done in conjunction with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), which finds that 13 percent of students face homelessness during their tenure, with Black students disproportionately affected. Twenty-six percent of Black CPS students experience some form of homelessness, as opposed to four percent of Hispanic students and two percent of white students. The study, “Known, Valued, Inspired: New Evidence on Student Homelessness in Chicago,” reveals that affected students’ GPAs, attendance rates, and graduation rates lag behind those of their unaffected peers. Seeking to shed new light on the multiple and interconnected dimensions of student homelessness, the report outlines a series of strategies to help students stay engaged in school and succeed. The report’s key findings related to the impact of homelessness on student success include:  

• In the first year that they experienced homelessness, elementary school students missed an average of five days of instruction due to absence or enrollment gaps, while high school students missed an average of eight days of instruction. 
• In the first year that they experienced homelessness, students also experienced declines in GPA. High school students living in emergency shelter or on the street experienced the largest declines – about a 0.5 point drop in the first year, the equivalent of a drop from an A to a C in one class.

The report’s authors point to seven strategies to help support students experiencing homelessness to stay engaged in their schoolwork and achieve success: destigmatizing homelessness; understanding the stories behind their status; monitoring students closely and consistently; focusing on meeting basic needs; connecting students and their families with opportunities to earn some extra income; making schools a “one-stop-shop” for students’ needs; and identifying people who can build trust with the individual students. The research was made possible with the assistance of Chicago Public Schools, and with the generous support of the Adelson Family Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, the Polk Bros. Foundation, and the University of Chicago Women’s Board.

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