Data shows thousands of Michigan K-12 experience homelessness

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– Research from the Michigan League for Public Policy shows more than 30,000 students in the state’s K-12 system experienced homelessness at some point during the 2017-2018 school year.

Data also shows more than 4,000 don’t have guardians or family to help them.

“You compartmentalize your school life and your home life to a point where, I don’t know, it’s unhealthy,” says a young woman currently experiencing homeless, who asked to remain anonymous.

Just a few weeks shy of her 22nd birthday, 6 News sat down with that young woman to find out what impact going through homelessness has on her life. She says it has caused her to move around mid-Michigan several times and go to more than ten different schools before she started high school.

“It kind of closes you off and makes you feel a little bit more alone,” she says of going through homelessness, “because you meet new people and then you leave the new people over and over again.”

She says there are a lot of reasons why children and teens can end up homeless.. And it’s hardly ever by choice. Regardless of why, agencies like Child and Family Charities provide short and long-term support for unaccompanied youth.

Things like emergency kits can be a good start, but staff members say what these kids need most is a strong support system.

“Going through life without having someone to support them is really, really hard,” Sophia Estrada-Herreira says. “So just handing them a house and handing them resources and saying “Here, find it,” that’s not gonna work for young people.”

Estrada and the young woman want kids in need to know it’s always okay to seek help.

“You’ll never know if you’ll get the support. You’ll never know unless you reach out.”

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