group of school kids raising hands in classroom

WANTED: Stability

Laurie Dubchansky Personal Finance

This blog is about a current social problem: school-aged children experiencing homelessness.

According to Stand-Up for Kids, a national non-profit, there are over 27,000 homeless students (grades K-12) in Orange County schools. Utilizing my financial planning skills and relationships with non-profits in my community, I am working on solutions that bring stability to homeless families. It is my hope to make an impact one school at a time, starting with one family.

I enjoy philanthropy and problem solving. Recognizing an area of need and planning a course of action is a personal passion! I am currently strengthening my understanding on homelessness. The Orange County United Way ( supports many schools in Santa Ana and across Orange County. At one Anaheim school, United Way provides funding for additional resources, allowing students to achieve desired outcomes. Students bolster their reading skills to read by third grade, attendance is up, an after-school homework assistance program began, and a soccer program was added. United Way also supports Sparkpoint in Schools, an organization that provides financial coaching to the parents at this school and three other schools. I am proud of these accomplishments, but there is more work we can do together.

Without economic stability, some families live with one or two other families. Near 5% of homeless families are living in motels, paying a daily rate, and moving every 28 days. How do children focus on their schoolwork when they must relocate every 28 days? Children deserve a great education. I believe economic and housing stability is necessary for educational success. Anything that prevents children from learning deserves our attention.

Non-profits that focus on housing have requirements for entering permanent housing. These requirements may include:

  • Two income sources
  • Good credit – no Social Security number is a barrier to a credit check
  • First month + security deposit
  • Emergency fund

The Orange County United Way will help me perfect the list of requirements of a family “ready” for permanent housing. There will be a process too. We may establish a fund for rent and security deposit. This could be a loan from the non-profit to the family so that monies would be available for additional families. Counseling on how to create an emergency fund and other personal finance topics might also be a valuable part of the process.

Last week I toured the Illumination Foundation in Orange County. They provide housing for hundreds of formerly homeless individuals and families. They claim their work (providing housing) has improved school attendance: “The Average Missed Days decreased from 27.4 days at entry to their program to 3.6 days once housed.” Impressive! Check out their website:

While researching, I learned about another organization, partially funded by Orange County United Way: Serving People in Need (SPIN). Their goals align with mine. If you are interested, their website is:

I will work with these three non-profits to help fund their services and/or provide financial literacy training. If you have any interest in providing stability to homeless families of school age children, please let me know. I will enjoy more partners!