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Thousands of Washington students start school without stable housing

Tens of thousands of students from kindergarten to 12th grade across Washington struggle with the hardships of being homeless.

Many students started school on Wednesday. For both parents and students, this alone can be stressful, but for thousands in our area, they also deal with the difficulties of not having a stable place to live.

“I just want to have my own house,” said Nardos Bahta.

Bahta is dealing with a lot of changes. She is starting high school this year. Her family just moved to western Washington in June, and actually just moved to the United States about two year ago. She also does not have stable housing and is living at Mary’s Place.

“As long as there is one child outside, we’re not giving up.  At Mary’s Place we can’t afford to fail. There are too many families depending on us," said Marty Hartman, executive director of Mary’s Place.

There are about 200 students who are living at Mary’s Place, but statewide, the number of students without stable housing is much larger.

According to the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, during the - 2017 – 2018 school year, these numbers were reported for area schools:

  • Tacoma School District – 1,742 homeless students
  • Seattle School District – 3,266 homeless students
  • Everett School District – 1, 026 homeless students
  • Puyallup School District – 401 homeless students

“We want all our students, regardless of their socioeconomic status, to feel like they’re a full part of our community here at Northshore,” said Michelle Reid, superintendent of the Northshore School District.

During the 2018-2019 school year, there were about 200 students in the district who experienced unstable housing.

This year, the Northshore School District reports there are 50 students without stable housing, but district officials expect that number to grow as the year continues.

“I think all students want an education,” said Reid. “I think when children think about a future for themselves, their current circumstances should never be a limitation."

Reid says Northshore will offer transportation, free and reduced lunch, and a one-time $150 allowance for school supplies to students experiencing homelessness.

She says any family experiencing homelessness can reach out to their school’s principal about the allowance.

Hartman says the first day of school has passed, but Mary’s Place is always providing services to families. She says whether it’s donations or volunteering your time, you can make an impact on a family’s life. For more information, click here.

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