In 2017-18 school year, over 1.5 million children and youth were homeless, with the number of students sleeping in cars, parks, and on streets more than doubling. There were only five states that saw a reduction of 10% or more in homelessness (Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, and South Carolina). Maryland’s student homelessness rate increased by 8.2% from school year 2015-16 to school year 2017-18 from 16,267 students to 17,601 students.
Pursuant to the McKinney-Vento Act, to be considered homeless, an individual must lack a “fixed,
regular, and adequate” nighttime residence (McKinney-Vento Act section 725(2)). A student’s primary
nighttime residence is determined at the time of the initial identification of a child or youth
experiencing homelessness and is divided into four categories for data collection purposes: sheltered,
unsheltered, hotels or motels, and doubled-up. The shelters category includes all types of homeless
shelters and transitional living programs, as well as students awaiting foster care placement.
Unsheltered students include those living in cars, abandoned buildings, places not meant for humans
to live, and substandard housing. Students living in hotels and motels are included when they lack
alternative, adequate accommodations. Students who are doubled-up are those who are sharing
housing with others due to a loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason.
While the type of nighttime residence used by students may change over the course of a school year,
LEA liaisons submit data based on the type of housing used by the student at the time they were
initially identified as homeless. Thus, the data provided in the table below only includes a snapshot of the types of housing students used and is not a comprehensive overview of all types of housing used
by students over the full course of the year. Additionally, in SY 2017-18, eight states did not provide
complete data on primary nighttime residences used by homeless students, while an additional three
states provided data for more students by primary nighttime residence than enrolled by grade.9 The
net result is a total for primary nighttime residence that is lower than the number of homeless
students enrolled by grade.