A new report from the Oregon Department of Education released Tuesday shows that 21,671 K-12 students experienced homelessness in the 2015-2016 school year, an increase of over 1,100 from the previous year. The Portland Metro area saw high numbers of students experiencing homelessness, with 1,434 students in Portland Public Schools, 1,128 students in Reynolds School District and 1,382 students in Beaverton Public Schools experiencing homelessness for part of the 2015-16 school year.
Districts across Oregon are severely impacted by the worsening housing crisis, and rural communities have been hit the hardest.
In Lincoln County, nearly one in seven (14%) students experienced homelessness for part of the 2015-16 school year.
In Central Point, one in ten students experienced homelessness for part of the 2015-16 school year.
In the Bethel, Medford, and Reynolds school districts, over 9% of students experienced homelessness for part of the 2015-16 school year.
See the full Oregon Department of Education report here. For more about the Oregon’s Department of Education Report, visit: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/results/?id=113.
“It is a statewide tragedy that last year, we allowed over 21,000 kids to experience homelessness, including one in seven kids in the Lincoln County school district. Our children should be thinking about their homework and playtime, and not worrying about where they will sleep at night,” said Commissioner Bill Hall of Lincoln County. “We can do more to protect kids and families from experiencing homelessness in Oregon. The Legislature should act to protect all Oregonians from housing instability and homelessness.”
Across Oregon, the four in ten families who rent their homes live with the concern or fear that they may be asked to leave their home at any time, with very little notice. Today in Oregon, tenants can be evicted with as little as 30 days to move even if they’ve paid their rent on time and have done nothing wrong. Large rent increases across Oregon also put people at risk of displacement. For these Oregonians, that means the potential of having to pack up their homes and their families, and try to find a new place to live in a very short amount of time. For kids, this could mean they are forced to change schools mid-year, and it could impact their parents' employment as well.
The Stable Homes for Oregon Families Coalition is urging the Legislature to act in 2017 to protect tenants at risk of losing their homes as a result of eviction and severe rent increases. Current state law allows landlords to evict families at any time without stating a reason and prohibits local governments from enacting rent stabilization measures. The United States Conference of Mayors has identified eviction as a leading cause of homelessness, especially for families with children.
“Kids who are experiencing homelessness are at risk for not coming to school ready to learn. The instability caused by homelessness often results in students missing school and falling behind academically. This can jeopardize their ability to graduate on time, as well as future college or career success,” said Marti Heard, Homeless Program Liaison for Portland Public Schools. “As a state, we can do better for our kids, and that means making sure they have the safety of a stable place to call home.”