Rising number of Rockford students face homelessness - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rising number of Rockford students face homelessness

Mary Trujillo, RPS homeless student advocate. Mary Trujillo, RPS homeless student advocate.

For some Rockford School students their problems do not just focus on having the right shoes or if their homework is done but where they will sleep tonight. District 205 is already seeing a large number of homeless students and it's still very early in the school year.


Federal law requires schools to help with things like busing and enrollment so students maintain access to education.

But Rockford, like many districts in the area, goes well beyond to provide clothing, food and even birthday presents without spending a dime of tax payer money.


"This will go directly to homeless students. This is school clothes basically, a pair of brand new jeans, a brand new shirt for school, underwear, undershirt," says Mary Trujillo, RPS homeless student advocate.


She is in a storage closet at the Rockford Schools Homeless Department. Every item inside has come from donations from churches, community groups or just fellow parents dropping off things like uniforms, jeans and shoes to a population of children that have next to nothing, homeless students.


"It could mean they are in a shelter, it could mean they are doubled up with friends or family due to losing their housing so they are sharing housing or an over-crowded situation. It could be at a hotel, it could be unsheltered," says Trujillo.


By the end of last school year, 1700 students were considered homeless. In September of last year, 850 students were on that list. Every year the school district starts its sign up over, so far this year already 1200 students are signed up as homeless.


"We are actually very high for this time of the school year," says Trujillo.


The rising numbers mean the need for donations is even greater. The Rockford Park District is kicking off a drive for socks, underwear and undershirts.


"Those are things that are supposed to be changed daily and everything. So with a lot of our families if they don't have access to a washer dryer, if they are moving around a lot they may leave those items behind. That's something we have a huge need for," says Trujillo.


Collections bins for new socks and underwear will at the Carlson Ice Arena, 4150 N. Perryville Rd., Loves Park, IL, and Webbs Norman Center, 401 S. Main St., Rockford, IL, starting Saturday. The school district say people bring clothing items to the Student Assignment Center on at 2000 Christina, Rockford, IL, throughout the year.

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