The number of homeless students has also increased in Northwest Ottawa County, though not as dramatically, said Cindy Benson, information services specialist and homeless liaison for Grand Haven Area Public Schools.
There were 103 students in the Grand Haven school district classified as "homeless" in the fall of 2010. That number has grown to 153 this past fall, Benson said.
Being classified as "homeless" doesn’t necessarily mean living on park benches. Families fall into that category if they lack a regular and adequate nightly residence; live in an emergency or transitional center, car, public space, motel, hotel or campground; or share a home because of economic hardship, Benson said.
Schools aren't the only ones seeing an increased need in services for homeless students. Todd Krygsheld, associate director of the Holland Rescue Mission, said more Ottawa County residents are using their emergency shelter services, along with the women and children's shelter.
"We've seen a little increase with the economy and loss of jobs," he said.
Although Benson said she thinks the homeless issue is driven by the economy, she believes shelters are helping more people because the community and schools are doing a better job of identifying people in need.
To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.