Jan 31

Number of K-12 students experiencing homelessness in Washington state keeps climbing

student in classroom

About one in every 27 students in our schools is homeless

School districts across Washington state have identified 39,671 K-12 students as having experienced homelessness during the 2015-16 school year – an 11.7 percent increase over the previous year and more than double the number from just eight years ago.

Schoolhouse Washington has conducted an analysis of the most recent data, as well as student homelessness trends over the past decade, using reports from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Our hope is that this analysis will help local school districts and communities better understand the enormous scope of the student homelessness challenge, and work to find solutions that ease the crisis facing far too many students in our state.

Key findings for 2015-16 include:

  • About one in every 27 K-12 students in Washington state is homeless, an increase over last year’s rate of one in 30.
  • About half of all students experiencing homelessness are Grade 5 or younger.
  • More than a quarter of all students experiencing homelessness are living in shelters, day-to-day accommodations, or places not meant for human habitation.
  • Nearly 3,500 students experiencing homelessness are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.
  • Student homelessness is disproportionately impacting communities of color.
  • One in 10 African American/Black students and one in 20 Latino students experienced homelessness, compared to one in 38 white students.

Our analysis also shows that K-12 student homelessness is a challenge facing all regions within the state of Washington:

  • In 15 counties, at least one of every 20 students is homeless: Asotin, Chelan, Clallam, Cowlitz, Douglas, Grant, Grays Harbor, Klickitat, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Stevens, Wahkiakum.
  • In all but 10 counties, students experiencing homelessness represent at least 3 percent of the total student population.
  • Since 2006-07, 32 counties have seen student homelessness increase more than 50 percent.
  • Since 2006-07, 23 counties have seen student homelessness increase more than 100 percent.