KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Two of the school districts reporting the most homeless students are in West Michigan.
Kalamazoo Public Schools topped the list released by the University of Michigan, with 904 homeless students in the district. However, that number was only 7 percent of the district’s total student population.
Grand Rapids ranked third, with 632 homeless students – approximately 4 percent of those enrolled with the district.
While school districts with the most homeless students were primarily urban, the districts with the largest proportion of homeless students were mostly in small and rural communities, including Baldwin Community Schools, White Cloud Public Schools and Carson City-Crystal Area School District.
According to the report, more than 36,000 Michigan children who attend public school face homelessness or housing insecurity – roughly 3 percent of students statewide. During the 2015-2016 school year, Michigan ranked sixth in the nation for the most homeless students.
The study also determined approximately 37 percent of Michigan public school children were eligible for free lunch because of their low-income status.
The study concluded state regulators who want to tackle homelessness should stabilize households by rolling out flexible policies that can be tailored for districts and communities of all sizes. Researchers recommended increasing access to data on homelessness, more collaboration across government agencies, and building community partnerships with local schools.
Families struggling with resources can reach out to the United Way by calling 211 or contact Family Promise of Grand Rapids.