CMS sees increase in students facing housing insecurity

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is seeing an increase in students facing housing insecurity.

As of Sept. 30, CMS had 2,278 students who qualified for McKinney-Vento, a federal program that assists children without stable housing.

There were 1,460 students in the program this time last year, according to officials.

CMS said the higher numbers are due to several reasons, including:

  • The eviction moratorium has been lifted
  • In-person learning has made it more likely for families to self-identify in that category and need out-of-zone transportation
  • Increased public awareness about the services and more training for staff to identify families struggling with housing

Ashley Pharr-Godbee with Thompson Child and Family Focus Services said guidance counselors have steadily sent referrals to her organization for families who are either on the brink of homelessness or have fallen into homelessness as a result of this pandemic and the housing crisis.

Phar-Godbee said those referrals started coming in even before the school year started and it hasn’t slowed down.

“This year our numbers are almost double that what they were last year as far as referrals and I don’t see that number going down unfortunately,” she said.

Deronda Metz works with the Salvation Army and Thompson Child and Family Focus Services.

She said they knew there were families who needed help when the pandemic first hit but it was hard to track them because of virtual learning -- and Phar-Godbee agrees.

“I think definitely with the schools as long as we can keep them open, that’s the best place for them to be, they have the resources there,” Phar-Godbee said. “I think we’re just scratching the surface of how this affects kids socially and emotionally going through a pandemic.”

Metz said the Salvation Army now has a CMS social worker at their shelter that can help address needs that pop up.

“It was very refreshing to say ‘OK, well let’s meet with some of the parents, let’s make sure the CMS social worker is involved in that so we can wrap any type of services these families need,’” Metz said.

(WATCH: CMS teacher raises money to help families experiencing homelessness)

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