According to a new study, every 45th child in the U.S. does not have a roof over his head. Hardest hit are the American West and the Southeast.

Every 45th American child was considered homeless in the past year; 42 percent of them were six years old or younger. A study of the National Center for Homeless Families arrived at this result, reporting the number of homeless children for each of the 50 states separately.

According to the study, the U.S. West and Southeast are the hardest hit: The negative frontrunners are the currently Republican-governed states Alabama, Mississippi, Arizona and New Mexico, as well as Democratic-governed California and Arkansas. Every second homeless child is believed to live in one of these states.

Repercussion of the Economic Crisis

The study spotlighted a period of four years and determined that even 2006, the “Year of Natural Disasters,” did not represent the high point of homelessness for children. At that point there were already 1.5 million U.S. children with no roof over their heads as a consequence of hurricanes Katrina and Rita; this number increased to 1.6 million in 2010. According to the study, the cause of the rise is the incipient recession in 2007. The conclusion is drawn that human-made disasters like the economic crisis can have a greater negative impact than natural disasters.

Further results of the study see a direct connection between the diminished ability of children to learn and the constant, traumatic experiences caused by homelessness. Not only do homeless children suffer from hunger, poor health and psychological problems, they also perform more poorly than “normal” children in reading and writing.

Expand Support

The authors of the study further criticize the lack of political engagement in the matter of homeless children. Only seven states had taken on this problem with substantial strategies; 16 states had not taken any measures at all.

There are ample suggestions for how this trend could be stopped. The most important would be not permitting government funds for homeless families to be cut. In addition programs that take on providing for housing, child care, education and the reduction of household violence must be expedited.