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US: Dallas district helps its thousands of students struggling with homelessness

homelessness in dallas
The drop-in centers could help 3,600 homeless students across the district. Source: Shutterstock.

In a bid to ensure the city’s homeless student population have a place of shelter, nearly every high school in the US district of Dallas now has a “drop-in centre” for the disenfrenchised group.

The centers are often converted classrooms, full of necessities for the estimated 3,600 homeless students who may need them.

Homeless students often feel too embarrassed or ashamed to tell anyone about their situation, let alone a member of staff at their school, Principal of Bryan Adams High School Mike Moran told NPR.

At Moran’s school, “a lot of times it is revealed that there’s a temporary living situation, they’re in a motel, they’re now staying with an aunt and uncle.”

And it’s not just one or two students, Moran claimed he has heard of around 50 similar cases at Bryan Adams alone.

Their drop-in center is a converted classroom offering food, deodorant, backpacks, coffee and even counselling services donated through local charities.

Moran said many of his students are “trying to make ends meet and are having a hard time making it.”

At Bryan Adams, Moran believes their drop-in center will help around 200 students, around 10 percent of the student body. Of this 10 percent, around 90 percent are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Bryan Adams member of staff Jody Martin told NPR she hopes the center becomes widely used through word of mouth.

“Even if it’s a kid just hearing that ‘Hey, there’s […] muffins and apple juice’ and they’re going to know there are resources out there.”

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Volunteers from the charities, including Focus on Teens, help to distribute the aid and run the centers.

Kameron, a senior at Bryan Adams, said the drop-in centre makes all the difference to his life, and the lives of those around him.

For children who do not, or cannot, see their parents it is a monumental help, meaning “if they need food, or they can’t stay with their friends” there is a safe place for them to go Kameron explained.

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Growing up in Australia, Martin told NPR she wishes she could have had access to a drop-in center as a child.

“I didn’t have support at home,” she explained. “You just need to know someone cares, because you don’t have that at home.”

Kameron has used all the services at the drop-in center at one point or another. His father has been absent for years and he has a rocky relationship with his mother, so he does not always have a home to go to.

Many of these students have high aspirations, but without services like the drop-in centers would likely be unable to meet them. Kameron is hoping to go to college.

“I am shooting for something outside of the state – something new, pretty much,” he said.

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