Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 has renewed an agreement for the 2022-23 school year with one local nonprofit to continue an effort to support students experiencing homelessness.

At a July 14 special meeting, the D200 Board of Education voted unanimously 6-0 to renew a data-sharing agreement with Housing Forward, a nonprofit headquartered in Maywood that works with individuals across Cook County to find housing stability. Board member Gina Harris was absent from the meeting.

With parental consent, the agreement allows the district to share students’ information — name, grade, school and a parent’s contact information — with Housing Forward, if they are looking for help with housing and need a resource. Parents can withdraw their consent at any time, and families have the choice of participating in the program.

According to the Illinois State Report Card data, students without permanent or adequate homes have made up at least 1% of the student body at OPRF – between 20 to 30 students – in any given year since 2016. District spokesperson Karin Sullivan shared the school has currently identified 17 students who are experiencing homelessness. She said district families who are experiencing homelessness are generally not living in shelters or cars, rather they are in a “temporary, transition situation” and living with relatives or friends until they find stability. 

Sullivan told Wednesday Journal the district has a housing liaison that works closely with families in need and pairs them with local agencies. She said D200 has also teamed up with West 40, an education organization that supports dozens of school districts in West Cook County, to offer students backpacks, school supplies and Ventra cards for transportation assistance.

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