School district and county work together to help homeless students

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County is becoming an increasingly expensive place to call home. With soaring rents and mortgages, the number of students facing homelessness is not decreasing.

“This pandemic has been absolutely terrible for our children and we’ve had to deal with that in the schools, but we don’t have enough staff, we don’t have enough dollars, we don’t have enough whatever. it’s to really make the impact,” said Palm Beach County School Board member Erica Whitfield.

Whitfield emphasizes a community-based approach to meeting this need.

According to data from the 2020-2021 school year, 2,931 students were considered homeless. This year, they are now more than 4,000.

Hundreds of students are in emergency shelters or transitional housing. Sadly, hundreds more live in abandoned cars, parks or buildings.

The district operates through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Relief Act. A federal program protecting homeless children.

Correnna Sheldon is a success story for overcoming reality and preparing for college now.

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“I’m really blessed because today I live with my mother,” she said.

The emphasis is on school stability and access to academic success.

The district works through the county and non-profit organizations like “The Lord’s Place”.

“The problem is being able to identify that the person or the family has that need. Because it’s an embarrassing thing for some kids, so they may not talk,” said Gregory Clay of The Lord’s Place.

Clay said they see a lot of homeless families and that presents its own set of issues.

“It’s harder to place families than singles,” he said.

Under-reporting is also a challenge. Some estimate the number of homeless students may be 2-3 times higher than current totals

About Teresa G. Wilson

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