In a new video released yesterday by the Coalition for the Homeless to mark Martin Luther King Day children talk about their dreams. A young boy wants to go to 'a really good college', another boy with a wide grin wants to be a comedian, a shy girl in a grey sweatshirt wants to be a doctor. Child after child shares their wishes for the future - big and small.
Every child featured in the video is homeless. They are part of the 25,000 children sleeping in New York City shelters. That number is at an all time high according to David Giffen, the executive director of the Coalition.
The length of shelter stays are also on the rise. The average stay for homeless families is now 14.5 months, the longest ever recorded.
"The trauma of homelessness is devastating for kids. Myriad academic studies show that homeless children experience problems in their health, social development and education later in life. Homeless children miss more school days, perform lower on tests and are more likely to repeat grades," says Giffen. "They have greater instances of developmental delays, likely due to disruptions in child care and instability from moving between shelters. Levels of clinical depression, anxiety and behavior problems were also found to be higher among homeless children than their poor but housed peers."
Giffen hopes this video will help put a human face to the statistics. "All of these obstacles can be overcome with the right kind of early intervention, and more importantly by helping homeless families find homes of their own. Homeless kids deserve the same chance to pursue their dreams as any other child, and the Coalition hopes that this PSA will help move policymakers to support the housing-based solutions to homelessness."