New Report Shows Impact of Pandemic-Era Funds for Students Experiencing Homelessness, Calls for an Additional Year for Schools to Use Funds | News Direct

New Report Shows Impact of Pandemic-Era Funds for Students Experiencing Homelessness, Calls for an Additional Year for Schools to Use Funds Even as child and youth homelessness increases, a deadline set years ago may prevent schools from supporting students experiencing homelessness

News release by SchoolHouse Connection

facebook icon linkedin icon twitter icon pinterest icon email icon Washington | February 22, 2024 07:30 AM Eastern Standard Time

This week, national non-profit SchoolHouse Connection released “Overlooked and Almost Out of Time,” a report showing the impact and reach of pandemic-era relief funds for students experiencing homelessness, as well as the challenges that are preventing schools from using these funds at a time of heightened need.

Congress provided the funds, known as the American Rescue Plan – Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) funds, through a bipartisan amendment to the American Rescue Plan Act, in March 2021. ARP-HCY funds must be obligated by September 2024.

“ARP-HCY funds are changing lives – even saving lives. But the limited timeframe for using the funds, combined with administrative restrictions, have created barriers to using funds. Now time is running out,” said Barbara Duffield, Executive Director of SchoolHouse Connection. “Urgent action is needed so that we don’t miss this historic opportunity to help students break the cycle of homelessness through education. We urge Congress to extend the ARP-HCY obligation deadline for one more year, and we implore all education agencies to prioritize ARP-HCY funds.”

The report is based on a survey of more than 1,400 school district homeless liaisons from across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as on analyses of federal data. The report found:

  • Child and youth homelessness has increased since the pandemic, creating a greater need for targeted support for students experiencing homelessness.
  • The number of school districts receiving dedicated funding to support students experiencing homelessness has more than doubled as a result of ARP-HCY funding, reaching over half of all school districts nationwide.
  • School district homeless liaisons report many positive impacts of ARP-HCY funds, including increased school stability, identification, and attendance.


Still, despite these positive impacts, the report found:

  • One quarter of school district homeless liaisons express concerns about meeting spending deadlines due to administrative hurdles and limited time. An additional 25% of liaisons were unaware they received ARP-HCY funds, potentially making it difficult to meet spending deadlines.

  • Even though liaisons are legally responsible for identifying and supporting students experiencing homelessness, they are often excluded from key decisions about use of funding.

  • Public schools are a critical source of help for children and youth experiencing homelessness, offering stability, services, and the education necessary to permanently escape homelessness and secure a brighter future. Yet homelessness creates barriers to education – many of which can be directly removed with ARP-HCY funds (for example, transportation, store cards to meet basic needs, and short-term emergency motel stays).


In addition to administrative barriers getting in the way of effectively using ARP-HCY funds, educational agencies have prioritized spending the $122 billion in ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds at the expense of a focus on ARP-HCY dollars. SchoolHouse Connection’s analysis shows that states have spent ARP ESSER nearly 50% faster than ARP-HCY funds, despite the fact that ARP-HCY funds are less than 1% of ARP ESSER funds.

The report lays out recommendations for Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, state and local education leaders, and state legislatures. “While the pandemic is officially over, the crisis of homelessness is unabated and growing. Leadership and action is needed at every level — federal, state, and local – to ensure that these funds are used effectively now and sustained into the future,” Duffield said.

A link to the report, including methodology, can be found here.


About SchoolHouse Connection

SchoolHouse Connection is a national non-profit organization working to overcome homelessness through education. We provide strategic advocacy and practical assistance in partnership with schools, early childhood programs, institutions of higher education, service providers, families, and youth. Our vision is that children and youth experiencing homelessness have full access to quality learning, birth through higher education, so they will never be homeless as adults, and the next generation will never be homeless. To learn more, please visit




Contact Details


SchoolHouse Connection


Barbara Duffield, Executive Director


+1 202-549-7668


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pandemic reliefAmerican Rescue Planhomelessnesshomelesshomeless educationyouth homelessnessschool districtshomeless liaisonARP-HCYfederal funding