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Homeless student rate in United States hits record 1.1 million

Published: Friday, Nov. 1 2013 4:00 p.m. MDT

Homeless people have to keep their belongings with them in Salt Lake City's Pioneer Park on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013. The number of homeless students has raised to record 1.1 million, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education. States with the highest increase of homeless children include North Dakota, Maine and North Carolina. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) Homeless people have to keep their belongings with them in Salt Lake City's Pioneer Park on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013. The number of homeless students has raised to record 1.1 million, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education. States with the highest increase of homeless children include North Dakota, Maine and North Carolina. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

The number of homeless students has raised to record 1.1 million, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education.

"During the 2011-12 school year, there were 1,168,354 homeless students enrolled in preschool or K-12, a 10 percent increase over the previous year," according to an article from Think Progress.

According to the article, the number of homeless students accounts for 2 percent of the total 55.5 million students enrolled in school in the U.S.

This number has grown exponentially since the beginning of the country's economic downturn, according to children's advocacy organization First Focus, Think Progress reported.

"The number of homeless children in public schools has increased 72 percent since the beginning of the recession. The states with the largest increase in student homelessness include North Dakota (212 percent), Maine (58 percent) and North Carolina (53 percent)," First Focus found.

CNN reported that economic struggles are "causing more students to end up homeless, meaning that they live in shelters, motels or are staying temporarily with someone else because they have nowhere to live."

The Washington Times reported increases in homeless students in 43 states compared to the previous year.

“These numbers are devastating, but sadly, entirely predictable,” Ruth White, executive director of the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare, told the Washington Times. “This report simply provides more evidence that the federal government has abandoned its commitment to fill yawning gaps in affordable housing options for low-income families. The consequences reach far beyond housing, beyond education, and into the job market.”

The data, however, isn't all-encompassing.

"It’s important to note that the number of homeless students in the United States doesn’t capture the full extent of youth homelessness," Think Progress reported. "Many young homeless people are infants, weren’t properly identified as homeless by the survey, or have dropped out (or been kicked out) of school."

A press release from the U.S. Department of Education reported that 16.1 million children in the nation, or 21.8 percent, live below the poverty line.

Email: ebuchanan@deseretnews.com Twitter: emmiliewhitlock

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