There were approximately 320 students from homeless families enrolled in the Portland Public School (PPS) system during the 2022-2023 school year, according to the district’s fast facts report.
The PPS report states that five percent of the 6,424 total students — around 320 students — enrolled in the district during the 2022-2023 school year were “McKinney-Vento” students.
McKinney-Vento students are children and youth experiencing homelessness that qualify for federal assistance under the 1987 McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
The federal legislation’s definition of homelessness includes children who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, who are sharing housing with others due to loss of housing, who are living in emergency or transitional shelters, cars, motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds, abandoned buildings, and who live in other inadequate accommodations as defined by the law.
The McKinney-Vento Act authorizes the Education for Homeless Children and Youths (EHCY) program, which in 2022 directed a total of $114 million to states and school districts nationwide.
The PPS fast facts report also states that 27 percent of their studenry during the 2022-2023 school year were English language learners, and 44 percent qualified for a free or reduced-price lunch.
PPS states that as a result of federal and state funding following the COVID-19 pandemic, all students have been able to receive a free lunch and therefore “compliance with income verification free-and-reduced lunch paperwork is low.”
As of Thursday, there are a total of 226 tents in homeless encampments across the Greater Portland area, according to city data. Official shelters have operated at capacity for most of the summer.
Portland’s Encampment Crisis Response Team (ECRT) this week moved its focus to the city’s largest homeless encampment at the Marginal Way Park and Ride, which sits on State of Maine property.
The ECRT will follow the same process of offering any available shelter space to the homeless individuals at the Park and Ride encampment before eventually cleaning it out, as it did with the Fore River Parkway encampment, which was cleaned out on Sept. 6, and the Bayside Trail encampment, which was cleaned out in the spring.
Last Friday, Communist and socialist organizations rallied against the ECRT’s policy of ‘sweeping’ the homeless encampments at a “Stop the Sweeps” protest outside Portland City Hall, demanding that city officials stop cleaning out the encampments until more long-term housing solutions are available.