Homelessness in Detroit Public Schools

Hundreds of Detroit school children are either living in shelters or living on the streets. The serious problem doesn't get a lot of attention but now, the district is becoming a safe haven for kids with no place to call home.

The schools are more than just the place the students get education. They also provides clothes, transportation, and support for the students. Tracy Carpenter is the Principal of Mackenzie Elementary and says he school is also a charitable organization.

"We provide clothing, we provide, sometimes, transportation," Carpenter said.

DPS doesn't keep exact numbers, but there could be upwards of 100 homeless students each year, but those numbers don't include kids who live in shelters. 

"Several families who, for one reason or another, have to live in some of the neighborhood shelters," Carpenter said.

DPS is aware of the situation and has a group of people dedicated to help the students and schools.

"We have a whole unit within our attendance dept that is responsible for ensuring that their needs are met," said Michelle Zdrodowski, DPS Exec. Director of Communications.

Some members of the community are reaching out to work with DPS, including Greater St. Matthew Pastor David Alexander Bullock.

"We are going to buy uniforms for students who may not have those uniforms for whatever reason," Rev. Bullock said.

And if a child does not have on a uniform, there is a stigma. 

As part of a State program, all Detroit Public Schools have social workers in the buildings of the schools. They're called success coaches not only because of the basic needs of the students, but also to deal with basic needs of life.

Officials tell us that 90 percent of DPS students receive free or reduced breakfast lunch and dinner, but that's just one way the students are helped.

"We have 21 Community Schools throughout the district that have a variety of programs from gleaners community foods to the heat and warm fund," Zdrodowski said.

DPS tells us kids still get a good education. Rev. Bullock said the city rises up to help students in need.

"I think Detroit Public Schools, I think the city of Detroit is one of those magical places where people find out that people need something, the community responds," Bullock said. "And that's what you are seeing now."


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