HEAT: Thousands of Pinellas County students homeless

St. Petersburg, Florida - There are thousands of homeless students in Pinellas County and one school district is pushing for resistance over silence.

The Homeless Education Assistance Team for Pinellas County Schools, or HEAT, is working to decrease homelessness and lower the dropout rate.

HEAT officials say there are more than 3,400 students who go to schools like Lakewood High School and are considered homeless.

"When I think of her I think of a success story." That's what HEAT officials say about honor roll senior Rhianna Alejo. Alego, her mother, and her little sister all lost their home when a leak flooded their apartment in November.

"Our world was turned upside down," said Rhianna's mother, Tanya Robinson.

Everything they had was ruined, gone. The buildings are still vacant.

"You don't have a home, [you are] in disarray. Your clothes maybe you've worn for several days. [You] need a place to take a bath."

Alego says she didn't know what to think or how to resolve the problem. So, they divided and tried to conquer it. Her mother and sister lived with her grandmother. She had to stay with a cousin.

"We were homeless, we had a place to stay but we weren't together as a home should be. I was speechless."

But the family found it's voice, spoke up, and asked HEAT for help. They say, "Just because you are homeless does not mean you are helpless."

"I thank God every time I woke up that tomorrow would be a better day. "

Months later, with faith and assistance from HEAT, it was.

HEAT officials say going forward through the end of the school year they'll also be working to get homeless students what they need for graduation and prom.

If you want information on how to contribute or benefit go to https://www.pcsb.org.


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