Student success starts with stable housing

Almost 10,000 Minnesota children are struggling with homelessness. In response, Lt. Governor Tina Smith, state legislators, and advocates highlighted the importance of the bipartisan Homework Starts With Home proposal.

Too many Minnesota students are struggling with homelessness. Housing instability keeps students from attending school consistently and diminishes their likelihood of achieving key measures like reading proficiency, a predictor of future success.

With approximately 10,000 Minnesota children struggling with homelessness, Lt. Governor Tina Smith, state legislators, and education and child advocates highlighted the importance of the bipartisan Homework Starts With Home at a March 1, 2017 press conference.

The Homework Starts with Home proposal is included in Governor Dayton’s Opportunity Agenda for a Better Minnesota.

“This past year, over 9,500 Minnesota students, most of them in elementary school, walked in the door of their classroom without a place to call home,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith.

“They spent the night on a friend’s couch, or in a shelter, or someplace worse. This is unacceptable. These children have just as much potential, creativity, and capacity as any other child, but without a home, they don’t really have a chance.”

Governor Dayton has proposed an $8 million investment for the Homework Starts with Home initiative. This funding would help as many as 850 families struggling with homelessness to access better opportunities tailored to meet their specific needs.

About the Homework Starts with Home Initiative

This initiative is based on a pilot program which successfully identified specific approaches to address housing challenges facing Minnesota’s students. Under the pilot, 90% of the students and their families maintained stable housing according to a new report on the pilot program.

“We know that helping homeless families with the right kind of support to achieve and maintain stable housing has a powerful impact on children and their school performance,” said Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal. “In fact, 90% of the families served with our rental assistance pilot were stably housed at the end of two years.”

Homelessness and housing instability present significant challenges for students. Homeless and highly mobile students are more likely to be chronically absent, jeopardizing educational success, and 75 percent of third graders experiencing homelessness do not demonstrate reading proficiency, a key indicator for future academic success.

“If we have a role as government, it is making sure that children are safe and cared for. Safe, stable housing means a child has a place to do their homework,” said Sen. Jason Isaacson. “We know unstable housing disrupts a child’s learning and their learning environment, putting their grades and success in school in jeopardy.”

This initiative brings together school leaders, nonprofit agencies, and other community partners to use every tool at our disposal to create housing stability for students experiencing homelessness. Through the Heading Home Minnesota Funders Collaborative, philanthropic organizations have already committed $300,000 to this initiative, showing strong support to solve this growing problem.

Homelessness is a Growing Problem for Minnesota Students

The homeless student population has more than tripled over the past decade. Currently, more than 9,500 students in Minnesota’s public and charter schools are experiencing homelessness in the 2016-2017 school year.

School Year Distinct Homeless Student Records
2004 – 2005 2,349
2005 – 2006 2,416
2006 – 2007 2,254
2007 – 2008 2,667
2008 – 2009 3,133
2009 – 2010 3,666
2010 – 2011 4,639
2011 – 2012 5,678
2012 – 2013 6,774
2013 – 2014 7,695
2014 – 2015 8,569
2015 – 2016 9,401
2016 – 2017 9,528

This is a problem across Minnesota. For the 2016-2017 school year, students experiencing homelessness attended 1,241 different schools located in 300 different school districts across 77 of Minnesota’s 87 counties. Most homeless students in Minnesota are in elementary school. Homelessness also disproportionately impacts students of color. 72% of students experiencing homelessness in Minnesota are students of color.

Opportunity Agenda Investments in Education

Governor Dayton’s budget proposal, An Opportunity Agenda for a Better Minnesota, includes key funding for schools and pre-K programs to help every child in Minnesota access educational opportunities, everywhere in our state. Governor Dayton is working to expand voluntary preK, deliver excellent educations for every student, increase child care access and choice, and offer career and college readiness to Minnesotans across our state. Learn more about Governor Dayton’s proposed investments to grow opportunities for kids and families on the Governor’s website.

QUICK FACTS

Homeless and highly mobile students are more likely to be chronically absent.

Absences from school jeopardize educational success.

75 percent of third graders experiencing homelessness do not demonstrate reading proficiency.

Reading proficiency is a key indicator for future academic success.

Minnesota’s homeless student population has more than tripled over the past decade.

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