HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – When you think about homelessness, you may not think as much about all the children who have nowhere to live. The problem often goes unnoticed.

“I was homeless between the ages of 9 and 10, at the age of 15, and for the last time at the age of 19,” said Nikki Johnson-Huston, lawyer and former Ms. Pennsylvania.

Homelessness can look different for everyone. The Pennsylvania Department of Education reported more than 40,000 children and youth identified as homeless during the 2021-22 school year.

“I was a single mom with four boys, so that was a little rough, and we were living in hotels, vans, cars, basements, anywhere we could,” said Stacey Coldren, program manager at Family Purpose.

Coldren turned to Family Purpose in Camp Hill for help, a non-profit family homeless center. She now works there as a program manager.

“I know we definitely see more of the younger kids like toddlers and elementary, but we have a teenager here right now, “said Coldren.

Each child that comes through Family Promise has a different story.

“It really looks different for every child, most of them are couch surfing, bouncing from house to house, or staying in a hotel with their family,” said Coldren.

Coldren says Family Promise is usually alerted to a child in need through a school counselor or a church member. As kids get older or enter college, it becomes more difficult to find those in need.

“When there comes a break or longer break like summer break, these students have very little resources, and they have no home to go to,” said Rep. Melissa Shusterman.

Rep. Shusterman introduced a bill to create a pilot program at six schools that would assist students experiencing homelessness.

“To make sure that we’re acknowledging their needs for food, shelter, and transportation and for a place to land that is a community,” said Rep. Shuesterman.

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