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Montana had the largest increase in student homelessness among the states for the 2012-2013 school year, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education.
The report cites a 45 percent increase in homelessness, which in real terms means over 2,500 students are classified as homeless.
Anna Edwards with the Bozeman school district spoke with ABC-Fox Montana about the situation.
“I know that we have seen in the last few years, and I think it is for a variety of reasons, an increase in the number of students we identify as homeless,” said Edwards.
Just last year, Edwards says the school district identified over a hundred students as homeless.
Edwards said, “We identify students that are currently homeless so we can support them in giving them education opportunities.”
Identifying a student as homeless may not always mean the student doesn’t have a roof over their head.
“We look to see if a student is currently doubled up so if their family is staying with a relative or friend due to financial reasons or maybe even if they are living in a motel,” said Edwards.
Students being helped by that program receive clothes and other basic necessities, like food through the school lunch program, at no cost to them.
But many students who may need assistance aren’t getting it because of government inefficiency. A patchwork of programs exists, each with its own qualifications, according to Beartooth NBC, which reports that “77% of Montana children are not always eligible for housing and homelessness assistance, due to differences in definitions of ‘homelessness’ across government agencies.”
All of these percentages and statistics only go so far to paint an accurate picture of the situation. Behind the numbers and the government spending on ‘solutions’ is real human suffering. This tragic detail comes from KTVQ:
Executive Director of Tumbleweed [homeless shelter] Sheri Boelter said Tuesday that locally the numbers are problematic, and she said she anticipates winter to be of particular concern.
“I have to say, I don’t think my heart can take another winter like we had,” said Boelter. “We had frost bit fingers and toes, and kids doing desperate things, we had nine youth talking about selling their bodies just to stay warm. Knowing that that fact was awful.”
The country as a whole is experiencing a rise in youth homelessness, with an estimate of 1,258,182 youths classified as such.
Featured image: Shutterstock.com
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