Published: March 2017
“In New York City, one out of every eight public school students has been homeless at some point in the past five years. One in four (26%) of these students is in high school. In More Than a Place To Sleep: Understanding the Health and Well-Being of Homeless High School Students, we begin to explore differences in risk behaviors and health outcomes between homeless high school students and their housed classmates. Homeless high school students are struggling to not only find a place to sleep, but to meet their mental, emotional, and physical health needs as they pursue educational goals necessary to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
Homeless students face disproportionate burdens across the board—they are more likely to fall behind academically due to school transfers, absenteeism, and other instability factors; they are more likely to be suspended; they are less likely to receive timely identification for special education services; and the list goes on. What this report reveals is that these students face yet another set of obstacles to educational achievement—their health and risk behaviors—that, if unaddressed, will make it harder for them to finish school, follow professional goals, and remain stably housed in their own adult lives.
As New York City works to improve outcomes for homeless students, those efforts must incorporate an understanding of risk behaviors and health outcomes, which have been shown to predict well-being and productivity later in life. This report uses data from the Centers for Disease Control’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which for the first time includes survey questions allowing us to distinguish homeless from housed students.”