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'Shelter Student' Crisis

Ohanian Comment: One can only wonder at school officials' denying this surge in homeless children.

But school officials will follow Bill Gate's orders and make sure teachers are evaluated by these students' test scores.

The first order of business in new government stimulus money should be to make sure everybody has a home.

By Yoav Gonen, Doug Montero, & Jennifer Bain

The number of homeless students in city public schools has quadrupled since the economy tanked in 2008 -- weighing down an already overburdened system with an additional 30,000 kids lacking permanent homes, The Post has learned.

The shocking Department of Education data put the number of kids without fixed shelter at 42,980 as of October 2010 -- while state data show those numbers to be even higher.

The count was at 10,209 in October 2008.

Education officials said the numbers have skyrocketed not just because of the struggling economy, but also due to better reporting -- which has resulted in increased federal funding -- and better coordination with agencies like the Department of Homeless Services.

Some critics say the city's policies are equally to blame for the spike.

"This speaks fundamentally to the failures of the administration's approach to the problem of homelessness," said Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst at the Coalition for the Homeless.

"This administration has failed to recognize what 30 years of research and experience taught us -- that it's a housing-affordability problem."

The DOE's figures are required by federal law to count not just kids living in shelters, but those living in multiple-family households or motels, or awaiting placement in foster care.

The surge has walloped some schools more than others -- with Brooklyn's Fort Hamilton HS and New Utrecht HS each seeing their populations of homeless kids more than double from 2009 to 2010.

DOE officials said every school is responsible for creating a plan to address the needs of kids in temporary housing, and that they are each provided a liaison to help coordinate services from other agencies.

DHS officials said that, contrary to the reported school surge, they've seen the number of children living in city shelters flatline since 2008.

Additional reporting by Reuven Fenton

— Yoav Gonen, Doug Montero, & Jennifer Bain
New York Post





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