EARLY YEARS: Roanoke City Schools making strides to help homeless students

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Being homeless can take many different forms-- from staying in a shelter to sleeping on a friend's sofa.

These shelves are filled with clothing for needy Roanoke City students, made possible by the Help the Homeless Fund

Homelessness among school children is a problem in many districts, including Roanoke City.

Two years ago, city school officials reported 604 homeless students. This year, that number had dropped to 488.

School leaders say that's due in large part to Roanoke City Schools' Help the Homeless Fund.

It helps kids whose families are either homeless or on the verge.

"If a family goes in and they're in danger of being evicted. They've received an eviction notice, or they have been evicted, we try to step in and assist with some of those payments, whether it be for an electric bill, a water bill or even rent," says Special Education Director Hayley Poland.

So far, Roanoke City Schools has spent over $11,000 dollars assisting 74 families.

The money comes from people in the community.

Roanoke City isn't the only school district in our hometowns dealing with homelessness.

Here's a look at some numbers from around our area.
Roanoke City still has the most homeless students, at 488. Montgomery County has 189. Lynchburg has 184. Danville has seen a sharp decrease but still has 83 homeless students. Roanoke County has 50.

Roanoke school leaders say while things have improved, the need is still there.

"You never know what's going on with a family and we really want to make sure we're able to assist, and our students don't have to worry about where they're going to stay at night," says Poland.

We have a link to more information about the Help the Homeless Fund to the right of this story.