Homelessness Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Did you sleep in a safe, warm apartment or home last night? Would you be surprised to learn that about half a million Americans did not? In this lesson, you'll learn about the problem of homelessness in the U.S. and throughout the world.

A Night in the Life of a Homeless Kid

You're very cold. It's windy and rainy, and you're shivering. There's no place for you to sit down. No bed for you to sleep in. There's no place to cook dinner or sit at a table and eat it. If you were a homeless kid, this could be your life.

There are many homeless people in the world, including those who live on the streets or in overnight housing. Often, entire families are homeless, which might include tiny babies or grandparents.

Homeless Shelter

Some homeless people are lucky; they might find a bed in a shelter. Shelters are places where the homeless can stay for the night. Usually, they have to leave the next day. There aren't enough shelters for all the homeless people, so some of them sleep in their cars or outside.

In the book Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, the main character - Jeffrey Magee - is homeless; he's also hungry. Do you know what he did for meals?

''What he did have was the deer shed at the Elmwood Park Zoo, which is where he slept his first few nights in town. What the deer ate, especially the carrots, apples, and day-old hamburger buns, he ate.''

Food fed to the deer at the zoo most likely isn't what you'd want to eat for dinner. However, when you are homeless and hungry, you don't have much choice.

Homelessness in the United States

For many people, the United States is a great place to live because they have jobs and houses. Food is available in restaurants or grocery stores. Unfortunately, not everyone in the United States is lucky enough to have a job and a home. Believe it or not, as of 2016, nearly half a million people are homeless each night in the United States; over a third are part of families who have no place to live.

Sleeping on the Sidewalk

Veterans, or people who have served in the U.S. military, make up almost 9% of the homeless people in the U.S. They're often homeless because they have problems related to their service in a war. Almost 20%, or one in every five homeless people, have some substance abuse issues or a mental illness. About 7% of the homeless are children on their own, like Jeffrey Magee in Maniac Magee.

The rest of the homeless are people who just don't make enough money to pay for a home; there just aren't enough apartments and houses for people who are poor. They might have jobs, but don't make enough money to pay for the apartments or houses that are available.

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