Number of homeless students expected to grow

Number of homeless students expected to grow
School hallway (Source: WAVE 3 News)

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - As school systems grapple with the best ways to protect health and safety, they are also considering how the economic turmoil will affect students and their families.

They fear it could mean a major increase in the number of homeless students.

“I think that we will start to see waves as a result of COVID,” said Malora Horn.

Horn is the coordinator of the McKinney-Vento program, named for the federal legislation that addresses homelessness among students.

Last year, more than 500 students in Roanoke City Public Schools were identified as homeless, with no permanent residence. Horn expects the number to grow.

“We might not see that right now, but I think that for the next year, year and a half, maybe longer, we’re going to continuously see there are going to be more and more people in need of these services,” she said.

And there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, Horn said, for families concerned about their health, and their home.

“With families that are moving around frequently, it’s really hard to have a spot that a child can go to every day, where it’s quiet and they can do their school work or their home work,” Horn said. “So those are going to be challenges and we want to be able to listen to all the needs that our families have.”

They will call on the school system’s Help the Homeless Fund, which has raised thousands of dollars for hundreds of families in need.

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