National News

Growing number of Portland-area students struggling with housing insecurity

Posted August 31

— As Portland-area students go back to school, a growing number of them find themselves struggling with housing insecurity.

According to a recent report published by the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, Washington had the 8th highest number of homeless students in the country, with more than 35,000.

That number represents and increase of 30 percent from 2012 to 2015.

In the Evergreen School District alone, 1,040 students are considered "in transition," with the majority of them sleeping on friends' couches or in other similar unstable living situations.

"They don't have a parent to tell them to go to school. They don't have somebody to sign their permission slips, they don't have somebody to buy them clothes," said Peggy Carlson, the district liaison for the Students in Transition program, which provides food, clothing, and transportation for students struggling with housing insecurity.

The situation is similar in Portland-area schools.

Last year, Portland Public Schools reported more than 1,500 students in unstable housing situations, and Beaverton School District reported more than 1,700.

"Any parent knows how chaotic the start of the school year is, and so if you throw in not having a stable place to sleep, that just adds to it," said Carlson.

Jose Ramirez recalls his struggles, living on his own after moving to Vancouver from California.

"It was just hard having to deal with trying to come to school and worrying about am I going to be able to go home and sleep on a couch tonight. Or which couch am I going to sleep on tonight," said Ramirez.

The Students in Transition program helped him with clothes, counseling, and secured a bus pass for him.

The program eventually found a family that took him in, and Ramirez went on to graduate from Legacy High School at the top of his class.

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