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No Place Called Home: Student Homelessness Prevalence and Structural Correlates

October 2019

Michael Evangelist and H. Luke Shaefer, University of Michigan

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During the 2015–2016 school year, 1.3 million students nationwide experienced homelessness. Yet hardships like homelessness represent dynamic rather than static states, and so annual figures understate the cumulative risk that students face over time. Moreover, despite recent efforts to understand eviction and foreclosure as exploitative and racialized processes, there have been few efforts to connect homelessness to these and other structural conditions. Using administrative data on the population of public school students in Michigan, we found that close to 1-in-10 students experienced homelessness while in school. Moreover, Black students were over three times more likely to experience literal homelessness than white students. County-year fixed effects models indicate that rental costs, forced housing moves, and the opioid epidemic were associated with greater student homelessness. These findings have implications for our understanding of racial inequalities and the ways in which disadvantage and inequality are products of exploitative relationships.

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