NEW YORK (PIX11) — Kariem and his family of five children are homeless. PIX11 News met him Wednesday in the Bronx, across the street from New York City’s main intake center for homeless families.
“It’s been really hard. It’s hard for kids to focus. And that’s what I’m going through with my kids,” said Kariem.
For so many homeless students, this is the first stop in an academic journey filled with uncertainty and instability.
“They have trouble focusing on their schoolwork. A lot of times the teachers don’t really know what’s going on,” said Kariem.
Kariem’s children are not alone. Newly released data from Advocates for Children of New York shows a record high 119,000 students experienced homelessness last school year. The highest concentration is in District 9, located in the South Bronx.
Project Director Jennifer Pringle said this is the eighth year in a row at least 100,000 homeless students were enrolled in the school system.
“It’s not like student homelessness is going to disappear by next fall,” said Pringle.
Adding to the burden, city education officials cite an additional 12,500 homeless students entering the school system this school year, driven by the migrant crisis.
They also note stimulus funding is expiring.
The Department of Education said it’s prioritizing homeless students in need of supportive services, and noted the department currently employs 107 school-based community coordinators and 100 school-based social workers.
A Department of Education spokesperson said: “…we will continue to work with our partners at the city and state levels to identify and establish supports for our students in temporary housing, while contending with the city’s financial reality.”
“Students who graduate from high school are much less likely to experience homelessness as adults. So if we want to break the cycle of homelessness, we have to focus on our young ones right now,” said Pringle.
In the South Bronx, Kariem reflected on the hardships his children are enduring – through no fault of their own.
“It’s pretty hard for kids that are in school going through this problem right now,” said Kariem.