Children’s HealthWatch and the Medical-Legal Partnership | Boston released a joint report entitled “Bringing Children in from the Cold: Solutions for Boston’s Hidden Homeless.” The report describes a population of “hidden homeless” families and new research showing that children in these families are more likely to be hungry and in poor health. Unrecorded by any homeless census, these families move frequently, often into overcrowded apartments, or double up with another family never knowing how long they can stay. The report estimates that there are over 14,800 hidden homeless families in Boston and that this number is likely to grow as the economy declines.

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Bringing Children in from the Cold: Solutions for Boston’s Hidden Homeless

While previous research has shown that homelessness affects the health and development of school-age children, little has been known until now about the impact on young children of
multiple moves, overcrowding, or living in a home in which two families are doubled up. Children’s HealthWatch research has now shown that children under three years old whose families lack secure housing are more likely to be hungry and in poor health. Children’s HealthWatch found that the percentage of housing insecure families suffering from food insecurity is more than double that of families with stable housing. The percentage of children who are hungry is also more than double. While the differences in energy insecurity among the three categories are smaller, it is noteworthy that overall more than 30% of all families suffer from energy insecurity. Most troubling,15.6% of children living in severely housing insecure families suffer from poor health versus 8.6% of children in families in stable housing.