By Steven Monacelli
According to data provided by Dallas Independent School District, out of some 141,000 students in the district, approximately 4,000 students are considered “housing insecure” each school year.
“This is about an average number we have experienced the last few years,” said Robyn Harris, spokesperson for the district.
While there are varying definitions of the term, youth who are considered housing insecure lack a stable and secure place of residence. They may be living out of motels, shelters, or even on the street.
And though there are various factors that contribute to housing insecurity, recent analysis conducted by the Child Poverty Action Lab (CPAL) suggests one common sense culprit plays a part: evictions.
“There is some correlation between middle of the year moves for families in DISD and eviction filings at the elementary school level,” said Ashley Flores, a Senior Director at CPAL.
The data also helps confirm the perhaps obvious reality that housing insecurity is an unevenly distributed phenomena that disparately impacts certain populations.
“8.5% of DISD students in K-5th had middle of the year moves last year (5229 students). Some elementary schools had as high as 25% moves in their K-5 student population,” Flores told DW.
Students facing eviction and unstable housing would certainly be considered housing insecure. And relative to demographic population sizes, housing insecure are more likely to be Black and LGTBQ.
According to data collected by Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) — a “backbone organization” that is in partnership with over one hundred public, private and nonprofit institutions to address homelessness — Black households make up just 18% of the general population but 54% of the homeless population. This means the estimated 12% of people experiencing homelessness across Dallas and Collin counties are under the age of 18 are much more likely to be Black than any other race.
These findings can be found in their 2022 State of Homeless report, which estimates a slight reduction in the total homeless population, but notes a troubling increase in chronic homeless, and ongoing striking disparities in who is becoming homeless.
“A disproportionate amount of the youth homeless population are in the LGTBQ+ community,” Robinson told DW, citing potential factors like lack of family support.
Youth housing insecurity and homelessness is particularly troubling given that those who experience it are more likely to face the similar challenges when they’re adults.
“Some of the data around it can show that kids that experience homelessness when they are young have a higher propensity of falling into homelessness when they are adults,” said Joli Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of MDHA.
“And unfortunately, youth homelessness often gets overlooked by our general public because most people have the sense that if you’re a youth, you’re attached to a family somehow and are not likely to be independent of a family experiencing homelessness,” Robinson said. “But we know that there are homeless youth for whatever reason — whether it’s sex trafficking, or they’ve been kicked out of their home, or they’ve aged out of foster care, or whatever the case — that are not attached to families that we still have to think about and provide resources and services.”
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