Homeless Students

Spending time on the school board provides a lot of information.  Some goes into the brain and must be forgotten unless a later incident brings it up.  Some are opinions that seem irrelevant, but are important to the person sharing them.  Recently, I’ve learned that a student can have a home but still be homeless.

Part of it is a social thing.  People like to own their own piece of the west – and raw land, particularly when it is less accessible and remote from the electric grid, is more affordable.  Here is the publication that defines homeless for Montana’s Office of Public Instruction:

OPI Guidance for Substandard Housing Determination (Unsheltered) for Students Identified as Homeless 

Homeless Liaisons should consider multiple factors when determining if a family’s or unaccompanied  youth’s situation meets the criteria of homelessness due to substandard housing.

  • Home must have a solid foundation and a roof that does not leak
  • Security locks must be on all exterior entrance doors
  • Home must be free from insect or rodent infestation
  • Home should have no more than five unrelated persons living in a single-family dwelling, or no more than two family members for each bedroom in the home
  • Each room must have a window or duct to provide ventilation, and interior air must be free of harmful pollutants such as mold
  • Home must have electric service and at least one electric outlet in each room
  • Home must have adequate heating facilities, and hot and cold running water
  • Home must have a separate kitchen and bathroom, each with an operational sink
  • Kitchen must have space for storage, preparation, and serving of food, including a refrigerator and stove or range with oven
  • At least one bathroom must have a bathtub or shower, flush toilet, sink, and offer privacy
  • Every sleeping room must have a window or door providing access to the outside

Additional factors that should be considered:

  • The family’s financial situation and ability to obtain suitable housing
  • The overall care of the children, including personal hygiene, cleanliness of clothing, nutrition, and healthcare

*Adapted from guidelines from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

It seems a bit unreal to live in a community where a family can pay over $1000 per year in property taxes, and find that their child is homeless.  Still, if you can own your home, free and clear, and still be homeless, it does say something about equality.

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