Number of homeless students in South Florida soars

In downtown Miami, dozens of elementary school children spill out of Overtown's largest homeless shelter for a ride to and from school.

In Homestead, a high school student hides her head beneath a hooded sweat shirt every time she walks into her temporary home -- mortified at having to live in a shelter -- while in a Pompano Beach shelter, an 8-year-old boy tries to adjust to his new surroundings.

And in Northwest Miami-Dade, a 12-year-old girl who lives in a wall-less outdoor fruit stand -- and bathes herself by spigot -- does her homework in a nearby flea market food court.

These are among the increasing number of South Florida homeless students -- children living in shelters, motels, cars, relatives' homes and on the streets because their parents lost their homes to foreclosures or evictions.

Miami-Dade leads the state in the number of homeless students at 2,382 -- more than enough to fill an entire school, according to state figures. That's an 8 percent jump in the number of homeless students from the 2006-2007 school year.

Broward experienced a slight drop in the number of homeless students with 1,642 identified last school year, compared to more than 1,200 students so far this year. But officials expect the number will be much higher

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