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Charlotte homeless study finds 4,388 CMS students faced serious housing issues in 2014-15

An overflow sleeping area at The Center of Hope, the city's largest emergency shelter for women and children. It is consistently over crowded.
An overflow sleeping area at The Center of Hope, the city's largest emergency shelter for women and children. It is consistently over crowded. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

A “snapshot” of family homelessness in Mecklenburg County compiled by UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute found that many of the families involved in the study were without housing.

Among the other findings: During the 2014-15 school year, 4,388 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students were homeless or faced housing instability. Some stayed in homeless shelters or extended stay hotels, while others slept in the homes of relatives or in cars.

The report describes the impact of family homelessness on families and children and what it looks like in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

It also outlines the best national strategies to end and prevent family homelessness. Understanding the challenges and long-term effects for families experiencing homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg can help the community find solutions to the problem, officials say.

Much of the data in the report was collected between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015, when almost 2,500 persons in families were reported staying in the county’s shelters and transitional housing programs.

“Homelessness has lasting, negative impacts on adults and children, including family separation, poor health outcomes and lower social-emotional and academic well-being,” Stacy Lowry, director of Mecklenburg County Community Support Services. CSS funds the report series.

The 2016 Housing Instability & Homelessness Report Series is a collection of local reports designed to better equip the community to make data-informed decisions around housing instability and homelessness.

A PDF version of the report and an Educational Toolkit are available online here.

Some key points in the report:

  • The causes of family homelessness include the lack of affordable housing, domestic violence and trauma, poverty, intergenerational transfer of homelessness, and evictions.
  • Twenty-nine percent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students experiencing homelessness in shelter or transitional housing were chronically absent, missing 18 or more days of school. Chronically absent students in CMS that experience sheltered homelessness were 21 percent less likely to be proficient in reading.
  • The odds of a black student experiencing sheltered homelessness being proficient in reading are 50 percent lower than their non-black peers who experienced homelessness.
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