Housing & Transportation >> Student Homelessness

Student Homelessness: Summary & Data Highlights

Student homelessness continues to increase in King County, but rates vary considerably across school districts. Homeless students are more likely than those with stable housing to experience family adversity, physical and emotional health problems, and impaired academic performance.

In the 2015-16 school year, the overall rate of student homelessness for the county was 1 in 34 students, compared to 1 in 27 students for Washington State.  However, the county average masks large differences among school districts. 

  • Tukwila: 1 in 9 K-12 students homeless
  • Highline: 1 in 16 K-12 students homeless
  • Seattle: 1 in 15 K-12 students homeless
  • Mercer Island, Issaquah, Northshore, Tahoma, and Vashon Island: fewer than 1 in 100 student homeless

From 2014-15 to 2015-16 school year, the overall rate of student homelessness in King County increased 15.85%.

Nearly half of King County’s homeless students (3,854 of 8,411) are in grade 5 or lower. 

More than half of King County’s homeless students “double up” with friends and/or extended family because their own family is unable to maintain stable housing.  

  • The second most common accommodation type is shelters.
  • Only 2.9% of homeless students are unsheltered.

Why does this matter for students?  Independent of poverty, the academic performance of homeless and other highly mobile students is lower – and is likely to stay lower – than that of students with more residential stability.  Homeless students are also more likely than stably housed students to experience family adversity and problems with physical and emotional health.

"Having the child when you are homeless … I don’t even know [what that would be like]. I just think it would have been so hard for him to be [moving] from one home to another, to not really have a stable home…. Like, ‘Where’s my home?’ … I have a strict schedule for him. He sleeps in his crib. That was really hard, try[ing] to get him to sleep in his crib. And, you know, he has certain times he eats, certain times he naps. You don’t have a home, how [are] you going to do that?"
Young Hispanic mother and father who had been homeless (during pregnancy) before moving into one-bedroom apartment in Redmond