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AISD sees increase in homeless population

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AMARILLO - A homeless head count by the City of Amarillo shows an increase from last year in people living on the streets, in shelters, cars, motels, or homes unfit to live in. If you have a child in the Amarillo Independent School District, it's likely one of their classmates fits that description.

It's a shocking reality that most parents or school children wouldn't guess.

"We serve homeless children and families in the Amarillo Independent School District and right now that's about 1300 students," Stephanie Clayton with AISD's Families in Transition program said.
      
1300 and growing. Families in Transition provides school supplies, clothing, transportation, and  tutoring for children without a place to call home.

Clayton says there will likely be 1800 homeless kids in the district by the end of the school year if the current trend continues.

"We have them all the way from pre-k up to 18 year-olds," Clayton said. "We have them across the district, it's not in just one part of town or another part of town."
      
176 children live in area shelters, 1,084 doubled up in crowded homes with other families, 62 in motels, and some never know where they'll stay any given night.

Several families with children are living at Faith City Mission. The shelter offers a stable, structured living environment with resources to help parents get back on their feet. One single mother of two was kind enough to share her story with NewsChannel 10.

"I lost my job, I never thought it would happen, I thought oh my job's secure and then just boom," Single mother Dianna Burton said.

Burton, her 10-year-old son Dakota, and 8-year-old daughter Haylie moved to Amarillo from Houston after losing their house.

They lived with a family friend for a while, but have been in Faith City for almost two months now.

"It's been hard. You know, we moved from having our own place, to living with my best friend, which is not that bad, but it wasn't our home you know," Burton said.

Burton says shelter life been an adjustment... Rise and shine at five a.m., breakfast at six, kids on the bus before seven, then a city bus to her part-time job at United Supermarkets.

"Here we have to follow the rules and I think it's good for them," Burton said. "So when we leave, I'm going to take the rules and the structure, we going to take that with us."

Burton says she knows her family will be stronger after getting through this hardship.      

Dakota is a straight A/B student.

"I'm going to go to college to be a lawyer, and then I'm going to go to Black OPs, and then be a lawyer in California," Dakota said.

Haylie is quickly improving with the help of a tutor. Something AISD says is not uncommon for homeless children.

"Most of students do do pretty well. Like I said, they're very resilient," Clayton said. "Children can get through a lot and still manage to do really well in school."

Burton is now well on her way to getting a car so she can get more hours at work and start classes at Amarillo College. She wants to become to counselor and minister to people with alcohol and drug addictions.

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