Published: March 2021
Students and families who are in doubled-up living situations are temporarily sharing housing with other people due to loss of their own place, economic hardship, or similar reasons. Our data show that three out of every four students experiencing homelessness are in doubled-up housing situations and they have similarly poor academic outcomes as those living in unsheltered or other types of temporary housing (e.g., hotels, motels, and shelters).
Doubled-up living situations are usually not permanent, yet the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development does not acknowledge this population as “literally homeless;” therefore, the majority of students experiencing homelessness, as defined by the U.S. Department of Education, are ineligible for many housing services and funding. Temporarily doubling up with other households is no longer a safe option for many students and families, considering the uncertainty of COVID-19. The unintended consequence of limiting contact between households and social distancing has increased housing instability for students and families.
Before the pandemic, more than half of students experiencing homelessness were students of color. As COVID-19 has increased the number of students and families experiencing homelessness, it is important to address definitional misalignment across systems and government agencies so that those living in doubled-up households have equitable access to the support services and resources they need.
(Note: Abbreviations following recommendations indicate sources for those recommendations. See the Sources Key for details.)
School districts and school-based staff are able to identify and understand the complex experiences of students who are living in doubled-up housing situations. In addition, staff are properly trained to recognize, advocate for, and provide support services for McKinney-Vento eligible students, which include students who are doubled-up.
- Inform school and district staff, students and families, lawmakers, and community members about the different definitions of homelessness at the state and federal levels. (PE, LE) *See Housing Partnerships topic area, goal 4, for further information.
- Train school-based staff on how to identify and serve students living in doubled-up housing situations. (PE, LE)
- Train school-based staff on available housing resources for the benefit of students who are living doubled-up. (PE, LE)
Students and families living in doubled-up situations have access to programs and services that will help them meet their housing needs.
- Utilize Homeless Student Stability Program funding, local foundations, employee union organizations, and parent and teacher associations to support programs and services for students living doubled-up. (PE, MM)
- Provide support services for students and families in doubled-up living situations, such as case management, flexible funding, landlord incentives, and housing searches. Partnerships between schools and community-based organizations can also increase support for students and families whose housing status may restrict them from accessing services and resources. *See Housing Partnerships topic area for further information. (PE, LE, MM)