Citing a rise in the percentage of students experiencing homelessness, the Superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools and the Board of Minneapolis Public Schools both recently endorsed the United for Homes campaign to fund the National Housing Trust Fund, which would generate $200 billion to invest in low income housing across the U.S. over ten years.
Valeria Silva, the Superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools, expressed support for United for Homes in a letter dated March 28, "because SPPS students deserve a place to call home". Silva cited more than 2,000 Pre-K to 12th grade students experiencing homeless within the district, about 5% of the total student population. Ninety percent of these are students of color. Silva points to the lack of affordable housing and emergency shelter as the reason that 60% of Saint Paul's students experiencing homelessness were doubled up with family and friends, which increases the likelihood that they are moving around to various schools throughout the academic year.
As previously reported on this blog, the Board of Minneapolis Public Schools passed a resolution at its December meeting, citing an 22% increase in its population of homeless and highly mobile students between September 30, 2012 and September 30, 2013, bringing the current estimates to almost 4,000, or 10% of its student population.
Both the Minneapolis School Board and Saint Paul Superintendent Silva emphasize how housing instability affects student outcomes. According to Silva, "every time a student changes schools, they lose over three months of academic progress". The Minneapolis School Board cited the research of Dr. Ann Masten at the University of Minnesota Institute for Child Development demonstrating the negative impact homelessness has on the academic performance of Minneapolis children.
Minnesota currently has 56 organizations signed on as endorsers of United for Homes, including religious organizations, disability advocates, for profit and nonprofit developers, minority organizations, and women's advocates, in addition to housing and homelessness organizations.