Number of Homeless Students Increasing

I got your economic recovery right here:

Chicago is seeing a big increase in the number of homeless students attending the city's public schools.

Officials with the Chicago Public Schools report that 10,500 homeless students were enrolled this year, compared with 3,500 in 2000.

Better reporting may be part of the reason behind the surge. The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless in 2000 settled a lawsuit against the school district that demanded better reporting and services for homeless families.
Yes, that may be part of the reason. Another part may be the jobless recovery, which increased unemployment among blacks (1.3 point increase) more than twice that of other Americans (0.6 point increase), and disproportionately affected people already in poverty. As of 2003, 70% of Chicago Public Schools are 90% (or more) minority students, and 60% of Chicago Public Schools are 90% (or more) students in poverty, making children attending Chicago Public Schools the least likely to benefit from the spectacular economic recovery we keep hearing about.

The jobs that are being created, as has been well documented, are not the same caliber as the jobs that have been lost—and minimum wage jobs are not a solution to homelessness. As was reported earlier this year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition calculated that for the first time on record, “a full-time worker at minimum wage could not afford a one-bedroom apartment anywhere in the country at average market rates.”

I don’t guess I need to remind anyone around here that the minimum wage hasn’t been raised since 1998, or that the GOP refuses to allow a bill to increase the minimum wage to go for a vote without attaching some kind of bullshit which would only hasten burdening the middle and lower classes with a larger share of federal tax revenue.

Additionally, President Bush has cut billions of dollars for public housing during his administration, including money for the Section 8 housing voucher program, which subsidizes rental costs for families living close to the poverty line. We’ve seen the results of slashing funding to the poor in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy before:

In the 1980s the proportion of the eligible poor who received federal housing subsidies declined. In 1970 there were 300,000 more low-cost rental units (6.5 million) than low-income renter households (6.2 million). By 1985 the number of low-cost units had fallen to 5.6 million, and the number of low-income renter households had grown to 8.9 million, a disparity of 3.3 million units.

Another of Reagan’s enduring legacies is the steep increase in the number of homeless people, which by the late 1980s had swollen to 600,000 on any given night – and 1.2 million over the course of a year. Many were Vietnam veterans, children and laid-off workers.
The same shit that happened then is happening now. Huge defense expenditures, social Darwinist economic policies, cuts to domestic programs. It isn’t Reagan’s legacy; it isn’t Bush’s legacy; it’s Conservatism’s legacy. It doesn’t fucking work—unless you’re already rich.

(Btw, if you’d like to help out the needy kids in Chicago’s Public Schools, you can donate to Kits for Kidz, which provides school supplies to children whose families can’t afford these basic educational necessities.)

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