SPOKANE, Wash. -- A new study shows the number of homeless students in Spokane is rising.
Researchers at Eastern Washington University said Spokane has experienced a 60 percent growth in student homelessness in the last five years.
A local non-profit, Priority Spokane, is working to fix this problem. The organization is filming a short film to bring awareness to the issue because almost 3,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students are homeless throughout Spokane County.
"It's a little disheartening. It's definitely something we need to address," said Priority Spokane Director Ryan Oelrich.
Oelrich said about a year ago, EWU was awarded a grant to look at student homelessness in the Spokane area. Their research found Spokane County's rate of homelessness is 33 percent higher than state average. Of the nearly 3,000 homeless children in Spokane County schools, 76 percent of them are doubling up with family and friends due to evictions and other financial issues. Oelrich said when people think about homelessness, they think about people sleeping under bridges or holding signs, but homeless students are much less visible.
"Many times, as I've talked to these families, there's a pride issue. They feel embarrassed, they don't want to ask for help. There's also a worry that a government agency might intervene and take their kids, so many times they stay hidden," said Oelrich.
Priority Spokane is working on producing a short film to educate Spokane residents about the issue. They are inviting everyone to watch it and discuss solutions at their community forum on November 3 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at Providence Auditorium at 20 W. 9th.