During the 2013-14 school year there were 1.36 million homeless students in the United States. This is a doubling from seven years earlier.
In California for the same period, there were 310,000 homeless students, an increase of about 37 percent. Only Mississippi and Alabama had more homeless students per capita than California.
In Santa Clara County, there were 4,300 homeless students in 2013-14.
The mandated data collected by the Department of Education is based on known homeless children — that is, those who come forward or are known to be homeless. As such it surely represents a significant undercount.
The information is collated by the Lucile Packard Foundation in Palo Alto and reported on kidsdata.org. The contact there is Regan Faust. The data are sorted by legislative district, grade level, location of nighttime residence, and school district.
Using these data for our city, we find for 2014:
• 45 homeless students are in the Mountain View Whisman School District. And 90 are in the Mountain View Los Altos High School District, for a total of 135 students.
• One-third of the K-8 and one-sixth of the high school homeless students stayed in shelters, motels, hotels, or vehicles.
• Of these 135 students, 22 percent were K-5, 12 percent were in grades 6-8, and 66 percent were in grades 9-12.
Stepping back from the numbers, it is important to note that the number of homeless students in the U.S. has doubled following the great recession. And this number has remained high, likely sustained by stagnant wages and skyrocketing rents. Greed can be considered one of the underlying factors.
If this does not bother us deeply, then we are not paying attention, do not care, or accept the fantasy that if we leave it to the market it will all work out.
A task force of school administrators, the Community Health Awareness Council, the Community Service Agency, law enforcement, health professionals and the city could address the issue and aim for zero homeless kids in our community as articulated by council member Rosenberg.
Dr. Michael Fischetti is on the board of directors of the Mountain View-based nonprofit Hope's Corner.
This story contains 430 words.
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