REDMOND, Ore. - "We are living in a hotel or a motel," said 14-year old Shelby Bonford. "We've been moving a lot."
Bonford is one of nearly 500 students in Redmond who are considered homeless, which is 6 percent of its student population.
"Educators didn't realize that students who are couch surfing are homeless," said Angela Quattlebum, homeless liaison for the Redmond School District at Thursday's summit on homeless youth. "They don't just have to be on the streets to be considered homeless."
The district is giving educators new tools to identify and help homeless students and their families. Greater awareness is not the only reason the homeless numbers have increased.
"All the statistics we've been looking at show that the median income decreased in recent years," said city official Trish Pinkerton.
Redmond is in dire need for affordable housing. A family on minimum wage cannot usually afford housing in Redmond. The city also does not have a homeless shelter.
"There are more resources in Bend and they can get around town much easier in Bend than they can in Redmond," Quattlebum said.
For the first time, the city recently sought and received a federal grant to help low- and moderate- income families. Over the next five years, the city will spend $180,000 each year. The money could go towards the construction of a homeless shelter, low-income housing or many other options.
"We have a task force meeting, it's just begun meeting, to assess our needs and come up with some priorities on how to best spend that money," said Pinkerton.
If you would like to voice your opinion, visit the city's website: www.ci.redmond.or.us There is also an online survey that you can fill out. All meetings of the task force are open to the public, and they want to hear from you.