Numbers of Homeless Students Rise

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

It's been a tough couple of weeks for Merlene Yelding and her daughter. First Merlene lost her job, next the pair was asked to leave a family member's home.

After a short stint at a hotel, they've settled at the City Rescue Mission.

"This is reality," Yelding said. "I'm not the first, and I definitely won't be the last."

Acceptance of the situation was step one for Merlene, coordinating a ride for her 15-year-old daughter to Waverly High School was step two.

"I was embarrassed at first and I explained why I was calling for transportation and I didn't know what to do," Yelding said. "I went ahead a did it their heart went out and they said OK, transportation is no problem."

So, it was decided Yelding's daughter would be the first one picked up in the morning, and the last one dropped off at night to avoid any embarrassment.

Unfortunately school districts know how to deal with a situation like this one. According to the Michigan Department of Education, since the 2007-2008 school year, Michigan public school districts have reported increases of 300 percent in the numbers of homeless students enrolled.

"It has been under the radar for a long time," Deputy Superintendent at the Lansing School District, Jim Davis, said.

Davis can't say for sure how many students are homeless because a lot families don't admit it. For those that do, there's a federal grant in place to assist them with clothing and supplies.

"Getting a clear picture of our homeless population is our biggest challenge," Davis said.

By law, transportation is solely up to the district. Davis said the district spends about $200,000 per year transporting homeless students across district and county lines.

"We do it in a variety of ways," he said. "Some times we provide our high school students with a bus token if that's the easier way instead of a singular bus route."

The report cites unemployment and foreclosure rates as a few reasons for the increasing homeless student population, which suggests this problem won't be going away any time soon.

"It really is a silent assassin to the educational process," Davis said.

According to the report, not all homeless students live in shelters, just 21 percent of them do. Sixty-five percent of them double up or live with other families, and seven percent live in hotels. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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