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Student homelessness reaches record high

Your Ohio car donation could change these startling statistics.

New data shows that student homelessness has soared in the years since the recession began. According to the most recent data available from the National Center for Homeless Education, funded by the Department of Education, there were 1.2 million homeless students during the 2011-12 academic year, from preschool through high school. That's a 10-percent increase from last year and a shocking 72-percent increase since the start of the recession.

"The recession isn't over for America's poorest families," Barbara Duffield, policy director of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, told CNN. "There's a gap between what jobs are available, what those jobs pay and what affordable housing is available."

Homelessness continues to bean issue at the college level as well. Duffield said 58,158 college applicants indicated that they were homeless on federal financial aid forms this year, an increase from 53,705 in the previous year.

"We're really alarmed by these numbers," Cara Balardi, senior policy director at the children's advocacy group First Focus, told US News. "I think it's a sign that despite what we read in the news about the economy getting better and the recession being over, it's clear children and families are still suffering the effects."

This news also followed a recent startling Census report showing nearly a quarter of children in the United States under the age of 18, about 16.1 million, lived in poverty in 2012.

The true numbers of student homelessness could be significantly higher.

Unfortunately, this data may vastly underestimate how many American children are homeless. Infants and toddlers, as well as young children not enrolled in public preschool programs who may be homeless, are not counted. Also, older children not enrolled in school, who have dropped out or run away are not included in the Department of Education's data.

Balardi said that although there's no way to know exactly how many children are homeless, if the subgroups were taken into account, the number would be considerably higher. This is particularly true since young families with younger children are disproportionately represented in the low-income and homeless populations, US News writes.

In addition, "There are a lot of kids, especially in high school, who really hide [that they are homeless] and try to stay under the radar – they're just embarrassed," said Duffield. "And parents are afraid they will be removed from their custody, so there are definitely kids that go unseen."

The answer to ending student homelessness is within reach.

Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio offers real solutions to the youth homelessness crisis facing America. Balardi told US News that working to give families access to affordable housing can help solve the problem of homelessness and improve homeless children's scholastic success. At Volunteers of America, not only do we connect the families we serve with affordable and supportive housing, but we also nurture homeless and recently homeless children in our Youth Education Center.

We have believed in housing as the foundation for life for more than 100 years. Why? Because stable housing gives families the opportunity to become independent and obtain meaningful employment. Our Columbus and Toledo programs provide affordable housing for families with disabilities as well as offer supportive services.

However, these life-changing programs cannot continue without the support of neighbors like you. In order to give homeless children a safe place to study after school, or offer a family a new future, we rely on Ohio car donations. We accept nearly anything with a motor–cars, boats, RVs, motorcycles, tractors–running or not. It’s as simple as filling out our online vehicle donation form or calling (800) 225-0732. We offer free same-day towing, not to mention you could receive more money for your automobile as a charitable donation than you would selling it privately.

Get in touch with us today, and help change the statistics on youth homelessness in Ohio.