A new report out of Idaho shows the number of children without a permanent roof over their heads is increasing. This trend is mirrored across much of the Mountain West.
The number of children struggling with homelessness in Idaho has jumped nearly 65 percent since 2010, according to state data.
“And one reason for that is a shrinking supply of affordable homes in urban and rural areas in the state,” says Alejandra Cerna Rios, policy director with the nonprofit Idaho Asset Building Network.
Cerna Rios says many families with school-age kids simply can’t afford housing costs.
“Since rents have risen out of proportion with wages over so many years, this has caused more and more families to double up with other families for budget reasons, to live in motels or hotels, or live completely unsheltered.”
Youth who lack permanent housing experience increased negative outcomes, learning disabilities, suspension, retention and dropout rates.
“When the families of our students have access to safe, affordable, quality housing, it positively impacts every aspect of their child’s education,” says Dr. N. Shalene French, superintendent of the Caldwell, Idaho school district. “The stability of living in an affordable home in a safe neighborhood allows our students to maximize their educational achievement."
Students experiencing homelessness are also more likely to struggle academically and fall behind their peers in the classroom.
“Stress can produce toxic effects on kids,” says Cerna Rios. They have trouble focusing on their studies. They maybe have difficulty adapting socially and emotionally to their situation.
The data show that homelessness among students is not just an urban problem. Six out of 10 Idaho school districts with the highest proportion of homeless students are located in rural areas.
Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.
Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.