Rates of student homelessness have increased dramatically throughout the United States in recent years, yet there has been a dearth of scholarly analysis devoted to key organizations’ engagement of the issue. Given that the federal McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act has taken on a central, but underexamined role in shaping this engagement, this article analyzes the policy’s shaping of school, district, and community responses to conditions of homelessness. Focusing on issues of policy specificity, authority, power, consistency, and stability, the article suggests that McKinney–Vento has had a positive, yet limited influence on schools and students. For more widespread and effective implementation of the policy, it is suggested that appropriate, consistent, and strategically managed funding and interorganizational collaboration are critical. These implications for research, policy, and practice are framed as being especially relevant amid the recession era, during which the crisis of homelessness in the United States has become increasingly severe.
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