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Shelter From the Streets: In Houston, 2 Schools Opened to Homeless Students

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In a program that advocates for the homeless are calling the first of its kind, two Houston public schools are being used as temporary overnight shelters for children.

Melody Ellis, president of the school board, told reporters last week, "We want to invite the children to come in and at least have a safe place to sleep at night."

Lydia Ely of the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington said the program was the first she was aware of in which public schools were used as shelters.

Superintendent of Schools Joan Raymond announced the program this month as an experiment, after several principals reported that many students had no place to go at night.

The two schools chosen for the pilot were the Jefferson Davis High School and the Gregory-Lincoln Education Center.

According to a spokesman for the district, only 15 children stayed in the schools during the first week of the program last week.

Joseph Johnson, the state's educational-program director for homeless children and youths, has estimated that there are about 3,106 homeless children in Houston shelters each year--and about 10,464 statewide.

The board was expected to evaluate the plan late last week.--lj

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