State’s Student Homeless Population Doubles | Baltimore , Maryland | Baltimore Sun
For a few hours after school, Ryan Johnson is just like most 16-year-olds. He lounges on the couch with his favorite Xbox game or checks his Facebook page.
But then reality sets in. He decamps from his cousins’ house for the Howard County cold-weather shelter. Dinner is a meal with his father and 20 other homeless people. He goes to bed early, on a green plastic mat next to strangers, who also have no other place to go in one of the state’s wealthiest counties.
“It has been really hard,” said Ryan, a junior at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia. “I look at it like a detention I have to do every day, even though I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Ryan’s experience is becoming increasingly common. The number of homeless students in Maryland has more than doubled in the past five years, rising from 6,721 to 14,117 last school year, according to the Maryland State Department of Education.
The largest increases in homeless populations are notable for where they are occurring: in the suburban rings around cities. Anne Arundel County has seen a 231 percent increase in homeless students since 2005, Baltimore County a 140 percent increase and Howard County a 150 percent increase. The increase in Baltimore City, which still has the largest number of homeless students, was 75 percent.
Upper-middle-class families who once lived in $500,000 houses are telling school officials that they have lost their homes. In one case, school officials said, a family lived in the woods after losing their place. And many are temporarily living with family or friends, moving from house to house.
Nationally, the number of homeless children rose 38 percent from 2007 to 2010, including those too young to attend school. A new report by the National Center on Family Homelessness found that the recession left one in 45 children in the United States homeless.
The recession and the housing crisis led to widespread foreclosures and hit family finances hard. In Maryland, it can be particularly tough to recover as some areas lack affordable housing and the cost of living is higher. According to one study, the income needed for a two-bedroom apartment here is $24.43 per hour, or more than three times the minimum wage.
And the problem isn’t abating with the slow economic recovery. Several suburban Baltimore districts reported last week that the number of homeless students is expected to be higher this school year than last.
via Baltimore Sun