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Schools facing rise in homeless students

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Findings from “Foreclosure to Homelessness: The Forgotten Victims of the Subprime Crisis,” the June 2009 report [PDF] of survey findings released by the National Coalition for the Homeless, found that an average of 10 percent of the social-service providers they polled said their clients became homeless as a result of foreclosure.

Institutions like Monarch School and Children First Academy are uncommon. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a 1987 law designed to help homeless students continue their education, discourages segregating homeless students, but it exempts schools in four counties from this rule: San Joaquin, Orange and San Diego counties in California and Maricopa County in Arizona. A subsequent reauthorization of the law expanded on those provisions.

A Student’s Perspective

Jessica Valenzuela, 18, enrolled in the Monarch School last fall after her father’s job offer fell through at the last minute.

“When we were in Arizona, we were feeding the homeless. All of a sudden, it just twisted on us,” said Ms. Valenzuela, who has since lived in a car with her family, and later, in a shelter.

Through an organization called Dreams for Change, which offers social services for San Diego’s homeless population, Ms. Valenzuela received a referral to attend the Monarch School. She said the school has helped her tremendously through its “Shopping Day” services, through which she and other students receive free clothes, shoes, and toiletries.

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