The bad news: The number of students in Oregon who don't have a home of their own is still close to 22,000.
Last week, the Oregon Department of Education released its data on the homeless Oregon student population for the 2017-2018 school year. The report stated that 21,756 students were identified as homeless during that school year—which includes students who were living hotels or motels, sharing housing with other families and living in shelters, in addition to those who were living "unsheltered."
The number was down from the 2016-2017 school year, when 22,541 students were reported homeless. The number grew from the 2015-2016 school year, however, when 21,340 students were reported homeless in Oregon.
The number of homeless students in Oregon has risen by an overall rate of 20 percent since ODE began keeping count in 2012, reported the Stable Homes for Oregon Families organization. Advocates for homeless youth point to the state's housing crisis as reasons for the continued increase.
“Oregon children continue to bear the brunt of our state’s housing crisis and it’s time for state lawmakers to take action,” Alison McIntosh, Deputy Director of Policy & Communications for Neighborhood Partnerships said in a Nov. 20 release. “No cause evictions and steep rent spikes are driving too many families out of their homes with no place to go.”
Rent increases and a shortage of rental housing are definite realities in Central Oregon.
According to a report commissioned by Bend 2030 and prepared by ECO Northwest in 2017: "The multifamily rental vacancy rate in the Bend metro area is only 1.1% according to a rental survey conducted by Central Oregon Renter Owners Association (COROA) in 2016, which is down from 2.6% in 2015. Scarcity of inventory in the market has driven rents up."
Included in the data released by ODE was information about how homelessness affects student success, including homeless students being much less likely to attend school compared to their peers. The data also stated that homeless students are less than half as likely to meet or exceed math standards, half as likely to meet or exceed science standards.
The highest rates of homelessness among students was in the Mapleton School District in Lane County, which was reported as having a 30.28 percent rate of homelessness, or 43 students. Other small rural school districts were other places where the percentages of homeless students was highest. The Butte Falls School District—located in the Cascade Range between Medford and Chilquin—had a rate of 24.68 percent homeless students, or 58 students, followed by the McKenzie School District—east of Eugene—at 21.61 percent of students, or 43 students, reported homeless.
A fact sheet published by ODE on supporting homeless youth recommends a series of actions to support homeless students, including helping students connect with resources through the National Center for Homeless Education.