Video of the People’s Affordable Housing Vision Press Conference, 10/4/2010.
Also yesterday, I was made aware of the work a couple of friends of mine are undertaking to improve conditions and opportunities for homeless students. I’ll be posting more about this work as it develops.
The Madison Metropolitan School District’s Transition Education Program (TEP) has been called “outstanding” and has won at least one award. We should be proud of the work our district does, but I’m not sure we can ever do enough in seeking to help students who are homeless. I have heard that there are currently about 400 homeless students served by the MMSD TEP program. I’d guess that there are many more who’s housing is less than secure.
Each year the FDA publishes data on “Food Insecurity.” It should surprise no one and shame all that Food Insecurity is rising, especially among the young. Food Insecurity is linked to the poverty based achievement gap, directly via health issues and malnutrition, and indirectly because children who don’t know if their school lunch will be their only meal have more to worry about than diagramming sentences or memorizing math facts.
I don’t think there is a national “Housing Insecurity” index, although the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families does a great job tracking many statistics on the well-being of children and advocating for policies that will help (check their Vote for Kids campaign). They report that
• In 2008, 16,241 people, including 4,744 children, used
emergency shelter in Wisconsin homeless shelters.
• For the 2007/2008 school year, 9,331 homeless students
were served by Wisconsin public schools.
Stable housing plays a crucial role in children’s well-being. Kids who grow up in unstable housing situations tend to do worse in school, have more behavioral problems, and suffer poorer health than their peers.
When talking about services to the homeless or housing programs we often use the term “safety net.” When thinking about homeless children I think it needs to be a safety blanket, because some might slip through a net.
Sign on in support of the People’s Housing Vision (petition site), Vote for Kids and stay tuned for ways to get involved with, ideas, programs and policies to improve the lives and opportunities of homeless kids.
Thomas J. Mertz