Southwest Virginia - Homeless children growing problem in region

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    In just three localities in far Southwest Virginia -- Bristol, Washington and Wise counties -- there are currently more than 500 schoolchildren considered homeless.



    BY DEBRA McCOWN

    BRISTOL HERALD COURIER

    ABINGDON, Va. – Homelessness is a complicated issue. Trying to compile statistics on the magnitude of the growing problem among schoolchildren in Southwest Virginia is a challenge because different school systems count the numbers differently.

    Buchanan County, for example, reports zero homeless students – in a county where one in four children lives in poverty and nearly two-thirds qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches.

    Wise County, meanwhile, reported this week that it had 295 homeless kids, and wealthier Washington County reported 122.

    Add the city of Bristol, and the number totals more than 500 in those three localities – not including the 10 other counties and cities that make up far Southwest Virginia.

    “It’s a hidden population,” said Donna Bates, director of federal programs for Wise County Schools, who said many of those considered homeless are staying with relatives or friends.

    “Most of our families in this area take care of their own, so you don’t have as many living in shelters,” she explained. “Most of our [homeless] children are identified as homeless because of being doubled up out of necessity.”

    read more Homeless children growing problem in region | TriCities.com
     

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