Closings and delays

Homeless student population up 48 percent in Guilford Co.

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Most Piedmont students can do homework in their own home, but nearly 2,000 children in Guilford County don't have that choice.

The number of the county's homeless students has jumped a staggering 48 percent since 2008. The total number is now 1,900.

More than 150 students live in shelters, another 100 live in hotels, and another 70 are out on the streets.

Naila Cole and her three school-age children have lived at the Salvation Army shelter in Greensboro since September. Her family has been homeless since last March.

"When I first lost my house, it was not so much, 'Where's the next meal coming from?' It was, 'What's next?' I wasn't really sure where we were going to go," Cole said.

For months, she and her children bounced around from house to house among family and friends. Statistics show 1,550 students without a permanent address are staying with family or friends.

"It's hard. They don't understand. My oldest children they somewhat understand, but they don't completely understand.  They're ready to be back in their own place," Cole said.

However things are beginning to look up for the Coles. She just got a job in child care, and they're looking for housing.

"I have my days. My kids reassure me more than I have to reassure them. My son will tell me, 'It's OK' and things of that nature, so I don't know how to stay strong for them. I think it's because of them that I stay strong," Cole said.

As for why the numbers are going up, Darryl Kosciak with Partners Ending Homelessness said part of the reason is due to better counting practices.

However, they are quick to point out that there is also a national trend of more people becoming homeless.

"We're not atypical in this case. I think a lot of that has to do with the economic job losses and economic conditions," Kosciak said.

Partners Ending Homelessness came up with a 10-year plan in 2007, but officials are now working on a new plan that will work better in a tougher economy.