New Hampshire Counted Homeless in Schools
Ohanian Comment: Where is the outcry about 512 children between kindergarten and fifth grade who are homeless? And for the other 211 children are in grades six through eight?
Where are the counts in other states?
Where is the resistance movement, the opposition movement, that protects children?
CONCORD, N.H. -- In one 24-hour period shortly after a major snowstorm, state officials and outreach workers did a census of homeless people living in shelters or with other families, those with no roof over their heads, and homeless schoolchildren.
It was the first time separate counts by the departments of Education and Health and Human Services were performed simultaneously, from noon Jan. 25 to noon Jan. 26, said Linda Thistle Elliott, state coordinator for homeless education.
New York City postponed its homeless census, scheduled for Monday night, as a snowstorm headed into the region.
New Hampshire's count came two days after a weekend blizzard dumped up to 2 feet of snow on parts of the state, but Martha Young, program specialist with Health and Human Services' Office of Homeless, Housing and Transportation Services, said no one reported problems.
"Our outreach workers are really used to going out in the bad weather" and, because it's a small state, they know most of the places homeless people congregate, Young said Monday.
"I can see that in (New York) it would be a problem, because if you're an outreach worker trying to get people who are out on the street that day, they're not going to be there."
Preliminary results for New Hampshire's school count found 976 pupils were known to be homeless, said Thistle Elliott. Every school administrative unit must have at least one homeless coordinator who keeps tabs on homeless pupils.
Of the total, 640 were living in "doubled-up" situations, staying temporarily with family members or friends; 125 were in shelters; 96 were in hotels or motels; 14 were "unsheltered," usually meaning they were living in a car; and 62 were reported as living in "other" situations, possibly campgrounds or vacant buildings. The living circumstances of 35 were unknown.
More than half the total -- 512 -- were in kindergarten through fifth grade, while 211 were in grades six through eight. About 219 high school students were reported as homeless, but homeless youths in that age group, whether in or out of school, are "very, very hard to identify," Thistle Elliott said.
"Nationwide, we know this is underreported," she said. "Runaways or throwaways are likely to be very secretive about their living situation because they're without a guardian. ... They're likely to house-surf or live in their cars."
Usually, homeless children in eighth grade or younger are with their parents, and if they are in shelters, contact between their parents and the school system is mandatory, she said. But the state does not have any shelters for high school age teens who are on their own, she said.
Results haven't been tabulated yet for the survey by the Office of Homeless, Housing and Transportation Services, Young said. Final numbers are expected within the next few weeks.
Last year, outreach workers, shelters and social service agencies counted 1,081 homeless people, including children, statewide on Feb. 19, she said.
The numbers are hard to compare year to year, however, because the state keeps refining its survey, asking new questions and reaching out to more social service providers, interfaith organizations, shelters and soup kitchens, Young said.
This year, for the first time, the state will break the count down into people who have some form of temporary shelter and those who are "unsheltered," she said.
Katharine Webster, Associated Press
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