Home life causes struggles for some students considered ‘homeless’

Homeless. When the word is presented, most people think of someone who is living on the street. Although, this is not completely true, at least when it comes to the school district.

  There are multiple students at Warsaw High who are considered ¨homeless by the district.” What this means is that they don´t live with a parental guardian, they live on their own, their family lives with another, or they are actually homeless. Actually, most of them chose to do this, just by moving out on their own.

  The definition of homeless by the district is: ¨Children sharing housing due to economic hardship or loss of housing. Children living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations. Children living in emergency or transitional shelters. Children whose primary nighttime residence is not ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation (e.g. Park benches, etc.). Children living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations.

  “I actually live with a friend of mine, but there have been times when I’ve slept on a bench because I was so tired from walking,” sophomore David Burkhart said.

  Burkhart left his home and headed for Kansas City where he had family. He left on foot due to not having a vehicle or anyone to transport him. It took him five days to walk from his house in Warsaw all the way to Kansas City. Once there, he was told that his family had changed their minds and didn’t have the room for him. He then turned around and headed back to Warsaw. Yet again, it took him five days to travel here and – once in Clinton- an elderly woman gave him a ride into Warsaw where he then slept on a bench.

  Senior Ren Rozzel chose to stay in Warsaw to finish high school, as opposed to moving with her mother in the middle of her junior year, due to her academic status she had already established at Warsaw. She lived with a friend before moving in with her sister.

  “For me, this year particularly, it is tough to balance work and school,” Rozzel said. Rozzel works between 30 and 40 hours a week in fast food to pay the bills.

  The district includes Warsaw High School, John Boise Middle School, North Elementary School, South Elementary School and Ruth Mercer Elementary School. These schools all help these students by providing funds, and giving them a homeless coordinator who will attempt to help them with what they can. Warsaw’s District Homeless Coordinator Katie Johnson says that there are more homeless students than what most would realize. The percentage of homeless students in the district right now is four percent.  Currently, the school does not have a lot of monetary funds to help with the homelessness. However, the schools do get local grants from around the area that helps pay for different hygiene needs, clothes and other essentials.

  Another thing that can help is the McKinney Vinto Grant. This is a grant that would financially help the school aid students in these situations. Many of these students go without certain things because they can’t afford them. 

   Most of these students hate the label “homeless.”

  “Oh I hate it it makes me feel like less of a person,” senior Savannah Goyette said. Goyette said the term is negative.

  Senior Ciara Cooper said “It makes it sound like we’re in a bad environment when, in reality, most of us left a bad environment to be in a better one.”

   Others have accepted the status.  

  “Well it is what is,” said Burkhart.

  Most of these students live on their own. They pay for their own things, their own bills, and even college. For example, senior Ethan Schomburg lives on his own and pays for everything. Schomburg moved out in June of 2018 because of his homelife being a “toxic” situation. In order to do this, he works two jobs and doesn’t have a lot of free time. He is having issues applying for financial aid for college due to his “homeless” status. The colleges have to verify that he is “homeless.” This takes a lot of paperwork and effort and even letters from other individuals.

  “Just because the district labels us as homeless doesn’t mean that we live on the streets or don’t live a normal life just like everyone else. We just don’t live with our parents,” said Schomburg

    These students have to work for all of their own stuff and do most of it alone. Some have the help of a significant other or friends.

  These students have gone through hardships and made tough decisions.