Monday, May 24, 2010
SAN DIEGO Vista school officials say the number of homeless students in their school district has quadrupled over the past three years.
There are currently more than 2,500 homeless students in the Vista Unified School District. That's about 10 percent of the overall student population in Vista.
The numbers are staggering considering just three years ago there were about 270 homeless students.
District officials say unemployment, home foreclosures and the economy are to blame. They're also doing a much better job at identifying these students and their families.
The district's Rebecca Benner says the majority are doubled-up in other people's homes.
“A lot of immigrant families do the doubling-up as the last measure before ending up on the street,” Benner said. “If (parents) are not here legally, they don't qualify for a lot of the social services.”
Vista Unified received more than half a million dollars in federal funding this year to launch an unprecedented outreach program for a public school district.
Benner says helping these students with food, shelter and transportation can keep them in school and focused on classes.
The district’s new strategy includes placing one homeless student liaison at each of Vista's 34 schools.
“A lot of our families don't have a vehicle. They don't have the money to take the bus. Its very difficult for them to walk to us. By getting the site liasion, we have a direct point of service for each of our sites.”