HousingWorks Austin has received updated information from the Austin Independent School District regarding how many students in the district were identified as homeless during the 2016-2017 school year. The statistics are compiled every year by the Project HELP Homeless Education Program using the standard for identifying “homeless children and youth” defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The act defines homeless as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.” The definition includes children and youth who are sharing the housing of others (doubled-up) due to a loss of housing, economic hardship or similar reason; children and youth who are living in an emergency or transitional shelter; and situations considered “un-sheltered”, such as children who are living in cars, parks, abandoned housing, or similar situations.
As the chart shows, the number of homeless students enrolled in Austin ISD decreased from 2,693 during the 2015-2016 school year, to 2,311 during the 2016-2017 school year. The number of homeless students was higher during the 2015-2016 school year due to flooding occurrences in the Austin area during October of 2015. In fact, according to Project HELP, significant flooding incidents impacted the number of homeless students in AISD in the three most recent school years preceding 2016-2017.
Project HELP says many other factors could have had an effect on the lower number of homeless students including declining overall enrollment, the economic recovery, and the creation of more affordable housing units for families in recent years.
Austin ISD’s Project HELP Program continues to benefit from generous donors including CapCityKids, The Neighborhood, Hindu Charities, and Austin Faith Presbyterian Church. Donor contributions provide a number of important support services to Austin ISD students and families, including:
- school supplies, fees for field trips, uniforms, band equipment and sports equipment;
- temporary, emergency housing assistance;
- assistance with basic needs such as food, clothing, and transportation, and
- funding for the program’s annual Family Empowerment Event
The program maintains successful collaborations with a number of local agencies and organizations to assist families such as Foundation Communities, Foundation for the Homeless, ECHO (Ending Community Homeless Coalition), LifeWorks Austin, Goodwill Industries of Central Texas, Central Texas Food Bank, SAFE Alliance, and the Education Service Center Region XIII.