One of the greatest barriers to achieving a high school degree can be unstable housing and homelessness. According to the 2019 Building a Grad Nation Report, the national high school graduation rate for all students has increased from 71% in 2001 to nearly 85% in 2017. In comparison, only 78% of low-income students and 64% of homeless students graduated in 2017. This data highlights the impact homelessness has on obtaining high school and higher education, particularly the potential barriers that exceed those of poverty alone. Housing instability and homelessness increase the risk of exposure to violence, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and other traumatic experiences. Additionally, youth have reduced access to healthcare for physical health, mental health, and substance misuse treatments.
In order to empower homeless students to achieve their high school degree and seek higher education, the School House Connection suggests that we must prioritize identifying youth experiencing homelessness and provide support through increasing access to resources. By doing so, youth will have a greater chance to graduate, which will in turn prevent future homelessness, as having a high school degree or GED can reduce the risk of housing instability by 4.5 times. By supporting youth in continuing their education even through poverty and homelessness, we can strive to break the cycle.