Thursday, November 6, 2008

Foreclosure crisis burdens schools

(From CyberHomes) Our nation's foreclosure mess is a formidable one, affecting homeowners and families across the U.S. The current issue of Education Week shows just how far-reaching this crisis is, with a story that depicts one way in which the foreclosure problem is affecting children and weighing heavily on our nation's schools. The article helps to bring home the personal toll of the foreclosure problem.

In "Districts See Rising Numbers of Homeless Students," Catherine Gewertz writes that public school districts are seeing a dramatic rise in the number of homeless students, as parents lose their jobs and homes as more and more people struggle to keep up with their mortgages and their leases, or as more landlords default on their loans.

Among the hard-hit areas Gewertz highlights is Clark County, Nev. (which includes Las Vegas), where the local school district has noted 1,500 homeless students, twice the number that was reported a year ago. Districts are struggling to cope with this problem -- before today's current financial crisis, student homelessness in many school districts was less frequent, and was often spurred by traumatic events like family abuse or home fires, not by foreclosure, Gewertz says.
She notes that according to First Focus, an advocacy group for children and families based in Washington, D.C., an expected 2.2 million foreclosures over the next two years will impact 2 million U.S. children.

The foreclosure crisis is a heavy burden for schools to carry, as they already struggle with higher fuel and other costs. Gewertz writes that student homelessness can strain a school's transportation budget as schools have to bus homeless students -- who may now be living beyond the boundaries of the school district -- to school. Schools are also seeing a higher demand for psychological and social-work services as a result of the foreclosure crisis, she says.

Yesterday, we blogged about how there's conjecture that president-elect Barack Obama will make improving the housing market a priority. Let's hope so -- before more children are affected.

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