The face of homelessness has changed. It now includes children and infants. If that challenges our stereotypes and assumptions, then perhaps it’s time to shift our perceptions to include new information. The fact is, your child likely sits next to a homeless student in class.
With the “it” town growth of Nashville and unbearably soaring costs of housing, coupled with the fact that the city is approximately 31 thousand units short in affordable housing units, more families are finding themselves unable to sustain housing. Sure, the causes of family homelessness can be multi pronged, but we’d be naive not to believe that lack of affordable housing is certainly an increasingly large cause.
America’s Youngest Outcasts: A Report Card on Child Homelessness looks at child & family homelessness nationally, ranking the states from 1 (best) to 50 (worst), and examines causes of child homelessness and solutions.
The report indicates that while progress has been made in reducing veteran and individual chronic homelessness, no special attention has been directed toward homeless children and family homelessness, and their numbers have increased.
If you’re thinking that the Tennessee “Volunteer” state would never allow for that, you’d be wrong. In fact, Tennessee doesn’t even have an adequate “plan” to address the issue.
A 2017 study from The Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness says Tennessee is in the bottom of the pack when it comes to identifying and assisting homeless students.
In its study, “Out of the Shadows: A State-by-State Ranking of Accountability for Homeless Students,” the research ranked Tennessee in 50th place on its ability to support homeless students.
60 Minutes highlighted Nashville’s homeless problems during then Mayor Karl Dean’s Administration. What was produced was an one hour documentary on #HomelessInMusicCity. Five years later, not much has changed, in terms of results.
In 2014’s Mayoral election, the issue of affordable housing was one of, if not the, #1 issue. It was generally perceived that Megan Barry would be a “friend” of the homeless outreach community. Yet, in Mayor Barry’s administration we saw the situation growing worse. We see the homeless parents, families, and their children living in motels, friend’s basements, campgrounds, and cars in local parking lots. We’re not sure what happen to all those great plans, but we know that Nashville is no where close to reaching them. The federal goal of ending child and family homelessness by 2020 is completely out of reach.
Here we are in another election cycle. Have you asked your candidates what their plans are for actually addressing the issue? Ignoring it, while hoping it goes away certainly hasn’t worked. Perhaps it’s time to change the paradigm in how we view it.
The complete 2017 “Youngest Outcasts” report (latest stats) is available via pdf download here