NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There has been a surge in the number of homeless students on Long Island in recent years, new state data shows.

As WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported, Suffolk County has the second highest homeless student enrollment in the state, behind New York City.

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There are nearly 5,000 homeless students in Suffolk County, according to state data from the 2012-13 school year. Nassau County is close behind with about 3,200 homeless students enrolled.

In the 2007-08 school year, Suffolk had less than 2,000 homeless students enrolled, while Nassau had 660 homeless students, according to state data.

Cuts in federal funding and a lack of affordable housing are at the heart of the problem, according to Community Housing Innovations executive director Alexander Roberts. The non-profit group operates homeless shelters on Long Island.

“The communities have a misguided policy that they don’t allow multi-family housing, which is more affordable than single family housing,” Roberts told Xirinachs.

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The number of homeless students has risen nationally, said Roberts. But he added the problem does have a fix.

“You’re gonna enhance your community by allowing some affordable housing, not hurt it,” he told Xirinachs.

There were about 80,500 homeless students in New York City during the 2011-12 school year.

There were 1.2 million homeless students nationwide in the 2012-13 school year, data showed.

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