Leslie Turk

La.'s child homelessness rate highest

by Leslie Turk

Citing a report being released today by the National Center for Family Homelessness based in Newton, Mass., The Times-Picayune reports that Louisiana has the highest rate of child homelessness of the 50 states.

However, Ellen Bassuk, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and founder and president of the center, cautions that the state's numbers may be "a little bit inflated," based on statistics gathered in 2005 and 2006 in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

But Bassuk said the study includes a broader range of indices, all of which suggest that children in Louisiana are among the most at risk in the nation of going homeless. Bassuk said the study uses the federal Department of Education definition of homelessness, which includes people living with others after losing their homes or being evicted, as opposed to the more stringent, literal federal Department of Housing and Urban Development definition, which includes only children actually living on the street or sleeping in a car.

"The biggest driving factor for risk of homelessness is poverty," Bassuk said. "The top 10 states (with the best "overall" rating on child homelessness) have a poverty rate of 13 percent; for the bottom 10, the child poverty rate is 26 percent."
Read the T-P story here.