PORTLAND, Ore. – Out of every 1,000 students that went to school in Oregon last year, 37 were homeless, according to data released by the Oregon Department of Education Tuesday.
There were more homeless students last year than during the recession. Oregon’s homeless student population has risen for three years in a row.
The latest report showed that in the 2015-16 school year, there were 21,340 homeless students in public K-12 schools and another 1,929 homeless children in Pre-K programs. That's up by more than 3,000 students since the great recession hit in 2008. In the aftermath of the recession, during the 2010-11 school year, Oregon still had fewer homeless students than it does now.
Clusters of homeless students were found in the state’s largest school districts, but rural areas are also affected. Portland Public Schools has 1,434 homeless students, which is around 3 percent of the population. That’s the most homeless students total but far from the highest percentage.
In Lincoln county, 14 percent of the students are homeless. In Butte Falls in Southern Oregon, 35 percent of the 52 students in the school district are homeless.
Being homeless can hinder students’ education in myriad ways. Homeless students struggle to meet the same math, science and English language standards as students overall, falling around 20 percentage points below all public school students in Oregon.
“We know that students dealing with difficult life circumstances have a much harder time in the classroom,” said Salam Noor, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction at ODE. “Our goal is to make the school environment as stable as possible for homeless students through the hard work of school district homeless liaisons and their partners, who provide direct services to homeless families and youths in communities throughout the state.”
Public schools often provide transportation, tutoring, after-school and summer school programs, clothing and hygiene supplies to kids who don’t have a permanent home.
The report defined homeless students as kids who live in shelters, shared housing, motels or slept outside.