Helping Homeless Students Stay in School

Naomi Dillon

Nevada is a gambler’s state. Tourists press their luck in casinos, but the tens of thousands who have moved to the Las Vegas area over the past decade have rolled the dice on the housing market.

Their luck ran out in 2007. And since then, the state has had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, a stark contrast to an unprecedented boom that had Clark County building schools faster than any district in the U.S.

The foreclosures, combined with the recession, have left large numbers of families without a permanent place to call home, with schools working to pick up the pieces. The number of Clark County students who are homeless has grown by more than 30 percent in the past year.

“We used to have just a minimal amount, but now we have homeless kids in 99 percent of our schools, even high-income schools, because that’s where the foreclosures are happening,” says Myra Berkovits, the district’s homeless outreach coordinator.

In March, a report by the National Center on Family Homelessness (NCFH) estimated that one in 50 American children is homeless. The National Alliance to End Homelessness predicts up to 3.4 million Americans will become homeless in 2009—a 35 percent increase since the recession began in December 2007—with most of those displaced being families.

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