WASHINGTON, D.C. (WOAY) – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today released the following statement after the West Virginia Department of Education confirmed that more than 10,300 students experienced homelessness in West Virginia during the 2019-2020 school year. The reporting of these students was effectively halted in March due to COVID-19 significantly affecting the number of students who may have been identified as homelessness in the remainder of the year, which shows that the 2019-2020 school year was on track to surpass the 10,522 students who experienced homelessness in the 2018-2019 year in West Virginia.
“It is unacceptable that we have children and youth in West Virginia without a roof over their head, a safe place to sleep, or a warm meal to eat. It truly breaks my heart to think of those children whose basic human needs aren’t being met. The West Virginia Department of Education recently confirmed that more than 10,300 students experienced homelessness in the 2019-2020 school year, but their reporting was severely impacted in March by the statewide closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that some students weren’t counted. And we know the number of students who experience homelessness is likely much higher, even when they count for the full school year,” said Senator Manchin. “I introduced the Emergency Family Stabilization Act to help address this issue by creating emergency funding to help our children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. I urge the Senate to include this bipartisan, commonsense legislation in future COVID-19 funding to help keep our children safe during this global health crisis.”
In June, Senator Manchin introduced the Emergency Family Stabilization Act which creates a new emergency funding stream overseen by the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide flexible funding for community-based organizations to meet the unique needs of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. Specifically, the bill aims to provide emergency funding to underserved populations and areas, including in rural communities, who continue to see long-term repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fact sheet on the Emergency Family Stabilization Act can be found here.
Timeline of Senator Manchin’s work to address children and youth homelessness can be found here.