Hillsborough County is combating rising homelessness among students with a prevention program

WUSF Public Media – WUSF 89.7 

“Pathways to Hope” is helping Hillsborough students and their families reduce the risk of homelessness, which school officials say is a rising issue.

The number of students experiencing homelessness in Hillsborough County is on the rise.

According to the Florida Department of Education, more than 4,000 students found themselves in homeless situations in the last several years.

Hillsborough County Public School officials said the number is increasing due to the rising cost of living, limited wage growth and a lack of affordable housing.

Pathways to Hope, a prevention program that was implemented at Hillsborough County schools in March, gives support to families before they’re pushed out of their homes.

“They are struggling to pay this month’s rent, or maybe a family member lost a job or there was an illness. They can work with resource specialists to really get connected and see, ‘Okay, what can we do to prevent this family from becoming homeless?'” said Myrna Hogue, Supervisor of School Social Work Services at Hillsborough County Schools.

A resource specialist is stationed at the ten schools that have the greatest rate of students experiencing homelessness in the county: Lewis, Robinson, Forest Hills, Oak Park, Greco, Jennings, Mango, Pinecrest, Dover, and Turkey Creek…

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