When a parent shows up in the office of Maxfield Elementary School Principal Ryan Vernosh without a place for their family to sleep that night, it’s a struggle to find solutions – even temporary ones.
Too few emergency shelters can take families, and waiting lists are long. Child care can be hard to find or access, and parents’ work shifts seldom line up exactly with the school day. Emergency funds for short-term hotel stays are rapidly depleted and parents can risk losing their jobs if they take the time off to sort out a housing crisis, Vernosh told the House Housing Finance and Policy Division Wednesday.
Worst of all, these stories aren’t even rare at the St. Paul school, Vernosh said. Between 25 and 30 percent of its students experience homelessness at some point each year. Just this month, Maxfield Elementary has received at least 10 more referrals for children who have become homeless.
But a scarcity of stable and affordable housing extends throughout the state, impacting thousands of families in both rural and urban areas.