Count of homeless students in state increases 2%

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — New data from the Oregon Department of Education shows the number of homeless students in Oregon increased 2% last school year, continuing a trend over the last decade.

In the 2018-19 school year, 22,215 students were either living on the street, in shelters, in temporary housing or doubled up with other families, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

The U.S. Department of Education requires states to use a broader definition of homelessness than the federal housing authority, which typically means that tens of thousands more children are counted in the yearly student tally than the county-by-county census of homeless people of all ages.

The state reported 15,800 homeless Oregonians in the 2019 count.

Oregon’s homeless student count has stayed in the range of about 22,000 in each of the past three years including hitting a record high of 22,541 students homeless in the 2016-17 school year.

It grew from about 18,000 in 2012-13 to reach that point.

Reynolds School District had the highest percentage of homeless students in Multnomah County last year, with nearly 8% of the student body without stable housing. Parkrose followed with nearly 6%.

Beaverton, Medford and Portland had the highest raw numbers of students who are homeless. The three consistently top the list, and are also some of the biggest school districts in the state.

Beaverton had 1,971 homeless students, Medford 1,251 and Portland 1,217.

Oregon's smaller districts, as has long been the case, showed the highest percentages of homeless students.

Many of the districts with the highest rates of homelessness have fewer than 250 students. They include Mapleton School District, which reported 45 students experiencing homelessness -- nearly 30% of the school’s total enrollment.

The Oregon Housing and Community Services department, which counts the total number of homeless Oregonians found that coastal towns and southern Oregon have the most families experiencing homelessness -- about 3,000.

Places like Reedsport, a city of just over 4,000 in Douglas County, had 154 homeless students -- more than 22% of the school’s enrollment. Douglas County also had an average rent of $725 for a two-bedroom apartment in 2017 and nearly 30% of the county’s residents are paying half their income on housing.

Each school district employs at least one homeless student liaison who tries to ensure students who are functionally homeless -- whether sheltered or on the street -- receive quality educations.

The Oregon Legislature recently allocated $150 million to build affordable housing around the state that prioritizes families with children.

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Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com


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