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State selects school districts for renewable homelessness grants

Delaware Public Media

The state has selected school districts to receive portions of a renewable federal grant meant to support homeless students.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is part of the Obama-era Every Student Succeeds Act. It allows districts to apply for these competitive grants every three years.

“They go to help identify families who might be experiencing homelessness and then get them the support they might need such as personal hygiene supplies or school supplies,” said Education Associate John Hulse.

This year, $184,000 is being awarded to nine Delaware school districts in amounts varying from $10,000 to $25,000 dollars.

The applications were selected based on need and the quality of services the grant will help provide.

Hulse says most of the money will go towards paying homelessness liaisons in each district, charged with identifying students experiencing homelessness and connecting them with the available services. But he adds each school district also has its own creative programs.

“For one example I do know of a district that provides vouchers for sneakers," said Hules. "So they have an agreement with a local shoe store and when someone comes in with one of the district vouchers, they can exchange that voucher for a pair of shoes."

Hules says, according to the Department of Education, homelessness can include someone sharing housing, as well as someone living in a motel, hotel, trailer park or emergency transitional home. More than 2,100 students statewide have been identified as experiencing homelessness in 2019.

Of the schools receiving money, Capital and Christina School Districts have the most need. Notably, Caesar Rodney, Colonial and Red Clay School Districts are not receiving grants even though they each have more than 170 students experiencing homelessness this year.