CCSD expects number of homeless students to rise - WNEM TV 5

CCSD expects number of homeless students to rise

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The William Fry Center in conjunction with the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth offers assistance to homeless students. (FOX5) The William Fry Center in conjunction with the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth offers assistance to homeless students. (FOX5)

Thousands of students across the Valley are considered homeless. The Clark County School District identifies homelessness as living in a weekly motel, couch-surfing, living in a vehicle or even at area campgrounds in the county.

Even though the circumstances surrounding the problem of youth homelessness seems hopeless, there is hope and help for those teens.

Velvette Williams works in the Clark County School District helping homeless youth. She said the stories she hears from students break her heart.

"I would never have dreamed that students all over the district are going through these hard times," Williams said.

Last year, 9,284 students in CCSD were considered homeless or considered as children in transition. The district expects that number to rise to 10,000 this year.

This year, when parents registered their students, there was a new box to check on registration: "Do you consider your family homeless?" Williams said it is a simple, less intrusive way to find out which students in CCSD are homeless. After the paperwork is filed, the names of those students who need help are sent to counselors in their respective schools.

At a handful of schools around the Valley, hope rooms are set up to give students a break from the worries of home life. In the rooms, students can get a snack, shampoo and everything in-between they need to be successful.

Arash Ghafoori with the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth said he understands the stress kids in these circumstances are under, and it's no fault of their own.

"The reasons it occurs are sudden, and being homeless is out of the teen's control. Youth become homeless through no fault of their own. It is very dark and often they have to make bad choices just to survive," Ghafoori said.

Jim Rosa knows about the plight of homeless students firsthand. Just one year ago, Rosa said he was living on a friend's couch and didn't know when his next meal would come.

"When I came into the program, I had nothing. I was dirty. I didn't have a cell phone. I didn't have any clothes. Now I am in college and I have a job. It is all because of Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth," Rosa said.

NPHY addresses every aspect of a homeless teen's life, from mental health, transitional housing, a safe place to hang out, healthful meals, clean clothes and a shower. Rosa said NPHY lets teens know that someone cares about them and about their success.

"I appreciate having this safe place more than anything in the world. When I lost my family's support, I was really down in the dumps and I really felt like I was nothing in life. They gave me more self-esteem than I have ever had in my life. It just gave me the drive that I needed to get back," Rosa said.

Rosa is now 19, employed as a security guard and is enrolled in college. He says he hopes to pursue a career in the mental health field.

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