Schools | WCTV Eyewitness News | Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Help for the Homeless in Leon County Schools


By: Lanetra Bennett
December 18, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Administrators say hundreds of children in Leon County schools are considered homeless.

The homeless liaison says it's especially heartbreaking working with the families this time of year.

One woman, who did not want to be identified, was homeless before moving into her Tallahassee apartment in October. Her landlord gave her until December 23 before she and her middle school daughter would be evicted from that apartment.

The woman says, "I was in a panic. I'm like, Oh, God, it's December, it's almost Christmas, almost New Year's. I don't know what to do. I just did everything I can, got up everything I can. But, it still wasn't enough."

The homeless liaison for Leon County Schools, Dr. Pam Hightower, says the district will pay the balance.

Administrators say the mother qualifies for assistance under the McKinney-Vento Act. It's a federal law that ensures school enrollment and stability for homeless children.

Dr. Hightower says, "Right before Thanksgiving, I got a call from a mom who had been living in a house for two weeks without any utilities in her home. she had two special needs children and we were able to get her utilities turned back on."

Dr. Hightower says there are almost 500 homeless children in Leon County schools.

Some examples of the McKinney-Vento's definition of homeless are: children who live in shelters, hotels, cars, parks or public spaces, or children who are sharing housing due to lose of housing or economic hardship.

The unidentified mother says, "I would be on the streets basically. I would've been evicted without nowhere to go. So, I am grateful that I was able to meet Mrs. Hightower."

Dr. Hightower says the program is in the process of trying to help 32 families that live in the Hope Community. She says they want to provide at least one gift for each child for Christmas.

If you'd like to make a donation, call (850) 487-7100.


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