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There Are More Than 35,000 Homeless K-12 Students In Washington State

A new shelter in Tacoma operated by Community Youth Services. The shelter serves young adults 18 to 24.


There are more than 35,000 public school students who are homeless in Washington state. That’s according to the state Office of Public Instruction.

The number of homeless students is based on data collected from the 2014-2015 school year.

These kids were either in shelters, couch surfing, sleeping in cars or out on the streets. State officials say the large figure is a 62 percent increase from 2010.


According to Linda Seferian, a homeless liaison in the Tacoma School District, more kids would have access to housing if the federal government recognized that families who doubled with friends or relatives for a few nights are just as in need as families in shelters.


“So a lot of those families continue in  the  cycle of homelessness in their doubled-up situation, and don’t have the same access to assisted housing programs that maybe our families that are in shelters, or unsheltered or in motels. It’s a huge discrepancy,” said Seferian.


Tacoma has 1,300 homeless students. Of those, nearly 200 are not living with their parents.


“They don’t have the parental guidance. They don’t have those support people in their corner to help  to help guide them through the process in trying to get assistance to get housed. There’s a lot of kids out there that I don’t think we are reaching, that are under 18, and that at this point we don’t have shelter for them,” said Seferian.


In December, an organization called Community Youth Services, opened up a shelter for 18 to 24 year olds in downtown Tacoma. It’s the city’s first young adult shelter in 30 years. Community Youth Services says it’s planning to open another shelter that can house about a dozen kids between the ages of 13 and 17.


Not having reliable shelter takes a toll on a child’s success in school. In Washington state, the four year graduation rate for all students last year was 78 percent. For kids without a home, it was 52 percent.




Jennifer Wing is a Producer for our weekly show, Sound Effect.
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