Number of Homeless Students in Oklahoma Rapidly Rising

Jul 27, 2016

Penny Reynolds, executive director of Sisu Youth, hopes to secure funding to open a 10-bed night shelter at Church of the Open Arms in Oklahoma City.
Credit Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

The number of homeless students in Oklahoma has soared by 55 percent over a period of just four years, according to Oklahoma Watch. As of 2015 the number stood at almost 28,000 homeless students in the state. Of that number, about 1,600 were live in unsheltered locations like cars, parks, campgrounds and abandoned buildings. The rest are “doubling up,” meaning they’re runaways or unaccompanied youths living with relatives or friends.

State Sen. Kay Floyd says Oklahoma “absolutely” has a huge homeless youth problem. Floyd, a Democrat from Oklahoma City, last year authored legislation to study the problem. She says the problem is rural as well as urban.

An estimated 40 percent of homeless youths identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. These kids often have more trouble finding shelter, as they are wary of turning to faith-based charities in the state.