New study focuses on the over 34,000 homeless K-12 students in Michigan


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A new report is focusing on the over 34,000 homeless youth in Michigan.

The Michigan League for Public Policy found that homeless youth are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation, untreated mental health disorders, and physical abuse. The nonprofit policy institute focuses on economic opportunity.

Nearly one in seven homeless students are also “unaccompanied youth,” meaning they are not in physical custody of a parent or guardian.

Most homeless programs are set-up for either families or single adults, so the report recommends addressing “challenges facing people age 12-24.”

“We want to encourage community leaders to create spaces where youth feel prioritized—and existing structures like hospitals, libraries and community centers could all be used for programming like this,” said Parker James, Kids Count Policy Analyst at the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a national effort to improve conditions for children and their families.

The report also recommends specific reentry programs for the 44 percent of youth facing homelessness that reported staying in jail, prison, or a juvenile detention center at some point.

“Youth who’ve been in the child welfare or juvenile justice system are among the most likely to experience homelessness,” James said. “They’re often unprepared to live independently and they don’t have social supports.”

The report also points out that residents 24 and under have an average monthly income of $168.

“Affordable housing really is at the core of all homelessness issues in Michigan,” James added. “And based on what we’re seeing in this report, we need to make sure to prioritize housing projects that support youth age 24 and under.”

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