More Oregon students are homeless than last year, state says

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The number of homeless Oregon students has increased for a fourth consecutive year.

The state Education Department said Wednesday that 22,541 students were homeless at some point during the 2016-17 academic year — up 5.6 percent from the year before.

Dona Bolt, the state’s homeless education program coordinator, says some of the jump is tied to increased awareness about the importance of reporting homeless student data. She says a lack of affordable housing is another factor.

The homeless classification doesn’t necessarily mean the child is sleeping in a shelter or on the streets. The tag also applies to students who lack a fixed and regular nighttime residence, such as those who live in motels or bounce between the homes of friends and relatives.

Federal rules require school districts to hire a liaison to help these students get to school and have the supplies needed to learn.