Have you seen this making the rounds on Social Media?

It’s a good way to start a conversation about the variety of homeless information and data.

Federal law and state reporting requirements require Texas public school districts to determine the homeless status of every student who enrolls.

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act

The intent is to provide some level of stability for the student. It does this in several ways but one of the most significant is that it allows the student to stay in their home school by requiring the school to allow enrollment the student even without an address. In addition, for qualified students, school districts must transport the student from their living situation to the school. For example, if a family in Sanger becomes homeless and goes to stay in Lewisville with a family member and the family keeps the youth enrolled at Sanger, then Sanger must transport the student from Lewisville to Sanger for school and home again each day. Learn more about how school districts must report and address student homelessness below.

It is important for the community to understand how data is collected by the different sources. These can lead to misunderstandings or confusion when we are trying to talk about the nature and the extent of homelessness in Denton County.  Let’s contrast two current data reports from Denton County.

In the Annual Point-In-Time Count, is restricted to reporting only those who are literally homeless, living sheltered or unsheltered on a single night in January. This is the most narrow definition of the federal government’s definition of homelessness and is limited to a single day of data.

However, for the the data on students experiencing homelessness, it includes students in a variety of living situations (see the PEIMS Information below) and therefore includes youth and families who are literally homeless living unsheltered in a vehicle, those living in a in a shelter or transitional housing, those doubled up with family or friends, and those living in a hotel or motel. This is a very broad and inclusive definition of the federal government’s definition of homelessness and increases as students report homeless status throughout the school year for an annual count.

This is just one small example that illustrates the very complex issue of reporting homelessness. We hope you want to keep the conversation going and help better understand homelessness in Denton County.

If you want to learn more about student homelessness, please check out some of the resources below. You can also contact the Texas Homeless Education Office (THEO): http://www.theotx.org/ for the most current data on student homelessness or connect with the Homeless Liaison in your school district – Liaison Directory.

If you want to help a family in housing crisis, contribute to the Denton County Homeless Coalition Barriers Fund

Texas Homeless Education Office (THEO): http://www.theotx.org/ THEO maintains the Texas Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS http://www.theotx.org/resource_type/peims/) database for school homelessness reporting. It is important to note that the numbers are typically at least two years old. Among the items collected, the PEIMS records a student’s homeless status.

When students register for school, they complete enrollment information that is reported in the PEIMS. Homeless Status has five (5) codes. All students in the state must fall within one of the five code categories:

  • 0 = Student is not homeless at any time during the current school year.
  • 1 = Student lives in a shelter, transitional housing, or is awaiting foster care at any time during the current school year.
    Shelters are defined as supervised publicly or privately operated facilities designed to provide temporary living accommodations. The “shelters” category for homeless students includes emergency shelters, family shelters, domestic violence shelters, youth shelters, transitional housing programs, and temporary placements while awaiting foster care. The “shelters” category for homeless students does not include residential treatment facilities, Title I Neglected or Delinquent facilities, or Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities.
  • 2 = Student lives temporarily doubled-up (sharing residence with a family or individual) at any time during the current school year.
    Doubled-Up (e.g., living with another individual or family) is defined as sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason. This classification requires a case-by-case determination. Many students in doubled-up situations are homeless, but that is not always the case. See: http://www.utdanacenter.org/theo/downloads/factsheets/PEIMS_Hmlss_Unaccompanied_FAQ_2015.pdf for more information.
  • 3 = Student is unsheltered (i.e., lives on the street, lives in cars, parks, campgrounds, temporary trailers [including FEMA trailers], or abandoned buildings) at any time during the current school year.
    Unsheltered is defined as a nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings. It includes such places as cars, parks, campgrounds (if they live there because they lack an alternative accommodation), abandoned buildings, and substandard housing. Substandard housing may be determined by local building codes, community norms, and/or a case-by-case determination as to whether the accommodation is a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” For more information regarding determining whether an accommodation is “fixed, regular, and adequate” see the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) document Determining Eligibility for Rights and Services Under the McKinney-Vento Act at http://www.utdanacenter.org/theo/downloads/factsheets/RP16_Det_eligibility.pdf
  • 4 = Student lives in a motel or hotel at any time during the current school year.
    Students who stay at a motel or hotel are considered homeless if they reside there because they have lost their housing, lack an alternative accommodation, and do not have a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” In rare instances, some students living in hotels or motels might not be considered homeless.

Also, the PEIMS records a homeless student’s unaccompanied youth status on record.

Unaccompanied-Youth-Status-Code has two (2) codes. All homeless students in the state must fall within one of the two code categories:

  • 3 = Homeless Student is in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian (i.e., homeless student is not unaccompanied) for the entire school year.
  • 4 = Homeless Student is not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian (i.e., homeless student is unaccompanied) at any time during the school year.