Oregon Hits Record Number of Homeless Students
Oregon school districts served over 20 thousand homeless students in the 2014-15 school year, an 8 percent increase from the previous year.
Rising poverty. Drought. Lack of affordable housing. These are reasons why the number of homeless K through 12 students continues to increase according to Dona Bolt. She's a homeless specialist for the Oregon Department of Education.
Bolt: "In the midst of what looks like an economic recovery in Oregon we still have thousands of little kids that are not able to get the essentials they need in order to go to school."
She says the main challenge with younger kids is keeping them in one school despite unstable housing. As students grow up they need a solid adult figure. Homeless liaisons in schools help students find transportation, food, counseling, and shelter, but other community resources remain scarce in some areas.
Bolt: "A lot of our state is rural. We don't have shelters in most of our communities. There's almost 200 school districts in Oregon and only a few dozens of those are going to have actual homeless shelter."
Bolt says homelessness takes many forms. Some students stay in motels or with friends while others sleep in tents, cars, or on the streets. The majority of homeless kids in Oregon live in "doubled-up housing," meaning a garage or back room of another family's house.