Childhood homelessness is Orange County’s best-kept secret. Under its veil of affluence are the faces of more than 26,000 children experiencing homelessness and 126,000 children living in poverty. They say goodnight from motels, shelters, and couches. They are forced to focus on where they will sleep instead of what they will learn. Tragically, their educations and futures suffer.
Homelessness is a perpetual cycle, but we will end it, one amazing child at a time. Our guiding force? Hope.
Mark is one of more than 26,000 children STRUGGLING WITH HOMELESSNESS in Orange County. This is his STORY.
All children want to learn and thrive, yet housing and education are inextricably linked. Children need a home to do well in school. Without one today, they lack the tools and opportunities provided by an exceptional education, and are likely to remain homeless tomorrow.
Feelings of shame and stress shatter their small worlds, which should be built around innocence and development. A lack of nourishment paired with unstable living conditions leads to poor classroom performance.
Even families with two hard-working parents often cannot meet the high rent requirements required to lift themselves out of homelessness and into stable housing.
the need in numbers...
- 1 in 6 Orange County children are living in poverty.
While 87% of homeless children are enrolled in school, only 77% regularly attend.
During a 10-year period from 1994 to 2014, the number of students encountering homelessness in Orange County skyrocketed 236%.
At 5.2% of total enrollment, Orange County has more homeless or housing-insecure students than the 4.0% California average, with a higher percentage than neighboring Los Angeles and San Diego counties.
Families with children make up 70% of Orange County’s homeless population.
- Children experiencing homelessness are 9 times more likely to repeat a grade, 4 times more likely to drop out of school, and 3 times more likely to be placed in special education programs than their housed peers.
Also in comparison to their housed peers, youth struggling with homelessness are 50% more likely to perform below grade level in both reading and spelling, and 150% more likely to perform below grade level in math.
A minimum-wage worker in Orange County must work 102 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom unit at fair market rent.