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Central Texas experts weigh in as report says number of homeless US students hits 12-year high

Posted at 11:33 PM, Feb 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 00:33:17-05

More than 1.5 million public school students across the nation reported being homeless at some point during the 2017-2018 school year, a 12-year high.

25 News spent some time diving into what that looks like on the local front by speaking with people who work directly with these homeless students.

Officer Kyle Moore with the Killeen Police Department homeless outreach team assists at least a dozen homeless people a day. He said lately he has noticed an increase, finding more and more homeless youth.

"I have seen an uptick," said Officer Moore. "You'll see them staying in abandoned houses or, like I said, couch surfing, get a place to take a shower and then go to school, if they're going to school."

It's not just here in Central Texas. A new report from the National Center for Homeless Education found the number of homeless students in the United States hit a 12-year high during the last school year.

The Option House in Killeen offers a safe haven for homeless youth ages 11 to 17.

"A 90 day shelter. We take in runaway homeless youth and emergency shelter for foster care children," said Aaron Moon, Director of Option House.

As a part of Central Texas Youth Services, Option House says overall the need for their services has doubled.

"Within the last 6 months, the numbers have increased significantly," explained Karen Willis. "I would say our numbers have doubled with the services that we provided throughout the winter months they have increased."

However, they say there is hope for homeless youth.

"They're young. They have the opportunity to change what ever trajectory they're on," said Officer Moore.

Proceeds raised from the Taste of Central Texas event on Feb. 20 in Temple will benefit Central Texas Youth Services.