Student Houselessness

What is student houselessness?

Children and youth experiencing houselessness have the right to equal access to the same free, appropriate public education as other children and youth. The federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento Act) ensures this right for ‘homeless children and youth,’ identified as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This definition includes: sharing the housing of other people (“doubling-up”); living in emergency or transitional shelters; living in motels, hotels or camp grounds; and living in vehicles, public spaces, abandoned buildings, or substandard housing. Houseless ‘unaccompanied minors,’ or youth who have been abandoned or who have run away from home, are also eligible for the rights and services provided under the McKinney-Vento Act.

Under the McKinney-Vento Act, states must work to identify and mitigate any barriers to the identification, enrollment, attendance, and school success of students experiencing houselessness. Rights include immediate school enrollment even when records are not available, maintaining stable school placement (determined by a student’s best interest) even if outside typical transportation boundaries, and receiving support for academic success. Services vary by district and may include school transportation, tutoring, counseling, extracurricular programs, clothing, fees for educational materials, extracurricular activities or testing, and referral to health services.

Why is student houselessness important?

In the 2017-18 school year, data collected for McKinney-Vento reported there were 21,756 K-12 students experiencing houselessness in Oregon, which represents 3.75% of the total enrollment. Based on McKinney-Vento reporting, the percentage of K-12 students experiencing houselessness has been greater than 3% of total enrollment since the 2008-2009 school year.

School stability is an important factor in a student’s academic and social growth. Students experiencing houselessness lacking a stable, fixed living arrangement, can be particularly vulnerable to changing schools. Research has shown that students can lose academic progress with each school change.

Additionally, highly mobile students have been found to have lower test scores and worse academic performance than their peers. In 2017-18, across all grades in Oregon K-12 schools, students experiencing houselessness were significantly behind all students in meeting or exceeding standards in English Language Arts (31.6% vs. 54.9%), Math (17.7% vs 40.5%), and Science (39.6% vs. 60.2%). Students who were houseless were also less likely to be on track to graduate in 9th grade, at 60.2%, compared to 84.5% among all 9th graders.

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Please remember the following
  • The OCID Child Well-being Dashboard only includes children born in Oregon since 2001.
  • OCID only includes education data for children attending Oregon public schools.
  • To display race and ethnicity categories consistently across multiple data sources, OCID currently combines information from vital statistics, education, Medicaid, and child welfare records. Visit our Race and Ethnicity Data Overview to learn more.
  • The Dashboard shows descriptive data, not causal relationships. In depth analyses are needed to understand why disparities or trends occur. OCID’s targeted analyses shed light on policy questions prioritized by the Governance Committee.

For more information about the details and limitations of the data, please visit our Technical Dictionary and Dataset Overview.

Ready to explore the data?

Use the interactive display below to discover how characteristics collected by state programs vary among groups of children with different well-being outcomes.


Data are a starting point for understanding children’s experiences; they do not fully describe an individual’s identity or experience.

Want to dive deeper?

Explore the interactive display below to investigate potential trends or disparities among groups of children with the same well-being outcome.


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Suggested citation: Center for Evidence-based Policy, Oregon Health & Science University. Student homelessness dashboard. Oregon Child Integrated Dataset (OCID) website. Published [inserted ‘display updated’ date].

The Center for Evidence-based Policy partners with the Center for Health Systems Effectiveness, also at Oregon Health & Science University, on dashboard analytics.