‘Sleep out’ draws attention to Beaverton’s homeless

The Beaverton School District reportedly has more than 1,200 homeless youth

Tents are up around the Beaverton Library for Shelter Us Beaverton's sleep out. (KOIN)
Tents are up around the Beaverton Library for Shelter Us Beaverton's sleep out. (KOIN)

BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — Homelessness is a problem that goes beyond the urban areas of Portland and Vancouver — it extends to Beaverton, where the lack of a shelter has kids on the streets.

According to Shelter Us Beaverton, there are more than 1,200  homeless youth in the Beaverton School District, the highest number in the state. Of those, 62 are unsheltered and 281 are living on their own.

Sandra Aguilar was homeless for 6 months while she was attending Sunset High School. “It was bad,” she said. “I mean, we were couch jumping from house to house, sleeping in cars, motels.”

She stopped going to class and dropped out of school.

“That impacts your learning and your future, how you think about yourself, your self esteem, everything,” said Lisa Mentesana, the Beaverton School District’s Homeless Program Coordinator, “And all of those things are important to growing up and becoming a whole person.”

To call attention to the issue, Shelter Us Beaverton is holding a “sleep out” for the homeless. They’ve set up tents near the library where people are camping out to raise awareness.

“Until it strikes home, until you really see it yourself, you don’t necessarily feel it,” said Lois O’Halloran, one of the sleep out organizers.

It would take roughly 18 months, $85,000 and a building to get a shelter up and running in Beaverton. City Council member Cate Arnold said the city doesn’t have the money to do it. “We have look to our neighbors,” she said. “We have to look to our community and hopefully we can put some things together.”

Aguilar, for her part, is proud to say she’s back on track and graduated from high school this past winter.

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