The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 6, 2008

Your View — Support emergency grants for homeless students

While the government is focusing on the bailout of failing banks and automakers, the American people are struggling as unemployment rates reach a 14-year high and the economy officially slips into recession. One major indicator of the severity of this crisis is the increasing numbers of homeless children.

The Center on Responsible Lending projects that 2.26 million single-family homes will be foreclosed on, most of which will be occurring in 2008-2009. Based on this number, it is estimated that 1.952 million children could be left homeless due to the mortgage crisis — 33,100 of whom live in Minnesota.

Fortunately, a mechanism exists to lend assistance to these families. The McKinney-Vento Act aims to provide an equal and stable education to homeless children by removing barriers to school stability such as transportation and residency requirements and by providing services to assist families experiencing homelessness.

However, current funding for the legislation is not enough to keep up with the rising numbers of homeless students due to the economic downturn and foreclosure crisis.

Congress has recently passed H.R. 3221, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. This legislation contains many measures to respond to the current housing crisis, including a $30 million increase in funding for McKinney-Vento, and authorizes emergency grants to provide services to students who become homeless due to foreclosure.

Until this money is officially appropriated by the new Congress, McKinney-Vento is underfunded given the scope of this crisis.

Please take action on behalf of the children of Minnesota and urge your representative to support McKinney-Vento in the coming session.

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