As the city’s schools struggle with a crisis of homeless students, advocates and elected officials are mounting a fresh push for Mayor de Blasio to fund services.
A record 111,562 city students were homeless or living in temporary housing in the 2016-17 school year, up nearly 67% from 66,931 in the 2009-10 school year.
Homeless students are more likely to have behavior issues and learning disabilities. And they lag their peers when it comes to academics and attendance.
But de Blasio didn’t include any dedicated funding for programs to aid them in his $89 billion preliminary budget for fiscal year 2019 that was released Feb. 1.
Advocates and elected officials are crying foul. And they’re calling on de Blasio to include funding for programs when the budget is finalized in June.
A group of 30 City Council members signed on to a letter sent to de Blasio on Monday that seeks at least $30.3 million for social workers and tutors, in addition to other measures to support homeless kids.
That’s nearly a threefold increase from the $10.3 million de Blasio budgeted for students living in shelters in 2017 and 2018.
“Students who are homeless have worse educational outcomes,” the council members’ letter states. “Our city must provide more support to students who are homeless.”
The letter calls for the creation of a Deputy Chancellor’s Office for Highly Mobile Students, including students in temporary housing and students in foster care.
“With more than 100,000 students who are homeless, we have a crisis situation that demands more resources,” said City Council Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger, who signed the letter.
Randi Levine, the policy coordinator for Advocates for Children, said her group also backs the push for more homeless resources.
“We are pleased to see such strong support in the council,” she said.
De Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said the mayor plans to restore $10.3 million in funding for homeless students to the budget before it’s finalized, but the extra $20 million the advocates seek isn’t happening.
“The Mayor recognizes the unique needs of this community, which is why he’s committed to funding the program at current levels in next year’s budget,” Goldstein said.
“Unfortunately though, times are increasingly tight, and the $418 million we just spent to fix the state-run subways, which the Council supported, will only make this year’s budget process all the more lean,” she added.
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