AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A lack of funding is exacerbating the problem of youth homelessness in Texas, according to a new report.
"There's information and help out there for homeless individuals, but there's nothing out there for youth who are experiencing homelessness," said Probono & New Projects Director for Texas Appleseed Gabriella McDonald. "There are service providers and their schools, but they're not all connected. We need somebody who is overall looking at this issue."
According to a joint report released this month by Texas Appleseed and Texas Network of Youth Services, there are approximately 113,000 homeless students in Texas public schools.
"Youth homelessness falls through the cracks because of the fact that youth are often hiding and they're often couch-surfing," said McDonald. "It's not like an individual youth is sitting by the street panhandling or underneath a bridge like what people commonly think of what a homeless individual is doing. A young person who is homeless is often staying with friends going from couch to couch."
Over 500 of the recorded homeless youth in Texas are located in the Panhandle.
A lack of funding and programs, conflicting definitions of "homelessness" and no clear central authority are reasons this issue is now a serious problem.
"The definition of homeless is for any student that doesn't have a fixed, adequate, regular night time residence," said Coordinator of Federal Programs for Region 16 Vickie Ansley. "And there's a lot of different ways they can meet that criteria. So it's not just actually living in the streets to be able to meet that criteria."
Texas receives about $5.8 million in federal grants each year to fund homeless services at schools, but only 130 districts, or about 10 percent, are actually awarded money.
No state funding specifically for homeless students is provided to schools in addition to the federal money.