National News

Dept. of Education: Number of homeless students in Oregon hits all-time high

Posted November 15, 2017 12:18 p.m. EST

— The number of students in the state who meet the federal definition of "homeless" is the highest it's ever been, the Oregon Department of Education reported Wednesday.

The new record comes along with four years of increased homeless student counts, the department said.

Since last year, the number of homeless students in Oregon experienced a 5.6 percent increase. Since 2014, the number has seen a 19.2 percent increase.

For most recent school year, 2016-2017, there were 22,541 Oregon students who lacked "a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence," which is the federal government's definition of "homeless."

Of all K-12 enrolled students in Oregon, homeless students made up 3.9 percent of the 2016-2017 student population.

"While the numbers are heartbreaking, our resolve to make sure these students receive the best education possible is unfailing," acting deputy superintendent Colt Gill said. "Thanks to the hard work of liaisons at school districts and their partners in the communities, we can make the school environment as stable as possible for students who are dealing with difficult challenges outside the classroom."

The department said the problem isn't in just urban school districts. Data shows a different trend: nine out of the ten districts with the highest rates of homeless students have enrollments of less than 250 students.

The department also noted Oregon isn't alone in the increase of homeless students: both its neighbors to the north and south are experiencing the same.

"California's homeless student population is up 20 percent since 2014 to more than 200,000 students and Washington saw a double digit percentage increase last year to nearly 40,000 students," the department reported.

More data on Oregon's homeless students can be found on the ODE website.