The economics of homelessness

The news: Chicago Public Schools identified 10,660 homeless students from the start of the school year through Sept. 30, an increase of about 1,500 from last school year. Behind the news: Of the homeless students—more than 98 percent of whom were children of color—1,778 were “unaccompanied youth,” a seven-fold increase from last year. Julie Dworkin, director of policy for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, believes the increase is due to improved training on identifying homelessness and the different school year calendar—not an actual spike in the number of unaccompanied homeless youth. Despite the increase, Anna Vargas, a CPS spokeswoman, said underreporting is still likely, as tracking homeless students depends heavily on students’ self-identification of their situation.