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How is homelessness changing in U.S. cities? As median rents have risen across the United States, so too has the number of people experiencing homelessness. Some cities have prioritized sheltering their homeless population while others have not.

Student write linear equations approximating the annual rate of change in the sheltered, unsheltered, and total homeless populations, based on data from two points in time. They use these equations to predict the size of these populations in the future. Students brainstorm and discuss possible interventions by various parties, including themselves.

Students will

  • Write linear equations to describe the growth in homeless populations across the United States (in order to better understand this trend).

Before you begin

In a given school year, more than 1 million students will experience homelessness in America. Even if you don’t realize it, you may have a student whose family lacks a stable home. The purpose of this lesson is to explore issues related to homelessness in America, including rising rents and approaches cities can take to ensure affordable housing for their residents. Still, as responsible as this lesson tries to be, homelessness is an inherently difficult issue. Before teaching it, please consider how it might affect your students and be sure to approach it with compassion and sensitivity. (One specific way to do this is to avoid referring to people as “homeless” and instead use the phrase “experiencing homelessness.” This communicates that homelessness is not a personal failing but rather a societal condition.)

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices