Youth homelessness is a growing crisis impacting urban high schools across the United States. Black youth, in particular, are disproportionately affected. While the McKinney -Vento Homeless Assistance Act is designed to provide educational access to students experiencing homelessness, the extent to which the policy supports Black students is unclear. This qualitative study uses structural racism as an analytic framework to examine the narratives of eight Black youth who successfully graduated high school while experiencing homelessness. Findings show that being Black and experiencing homelessness creates unique challenges for accessing resources under the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Participants identified hostile racial climates at school as a common deterrent from disclosing their homeless status to adults at school, thereby restricting their access to federal support. The findings suggest the need for race-conscious language and interventions to be included in the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Additionally, the author urges more researchers studying youth homelessness to use a critical racial lens to address the racial knowledge gap that exists in the current literature on student homelessness.
Young, Black, successful, and homeless: examining the unique academic challenges of Black students who experienced homelessness
Journal of Children and Poverty