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More CMS students are without homes now, but there's a way to help, district says

The number of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students experiencing homelessness is up more than 50% over September 2020, according to a report to the school board.

As of Thursday, 2,278 students had been identified as lacking stable housing, which makes them eligible for support under the federal McKinney-Vento Act. Last September, that number was 1,460.

The number of students eligible for McKinney-Vento aid typically rises during each school year, as additional students are identified. Last year's total was just over 3,000.

The report says remote learning during the pandemic may have led to fewer students being identified for help last fall. But officials also say the end of the eviction moratorium is now leaving more students without housing.

The CMS numbers come as housing advocates say homelessness is rising in Mecklenburg County, especially among families.

CMS will have a better sense later this month about where their students are living.

"We expect to see higher numbers of families who are sharing accommodations or living in hotels since shelter space has been limited due to the pandemic," the report from Superintendent Earnest Winston says.

Purposity app connects donors

People who want to help CMS students in need can use an app called Purposity. District social workers, including those who work with students experiencing homelessness, upload individual student needs. That might be a new pair of shoes, school supplies or bedding for wherever they’re staying. Donors buy items that are delivered to the students within 48 hours.

The free app links donors to organizations across the country. Follow CMS to see local needs. The district currently has 60 listed.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.