Worcester Telegram and Gazette

WORCESTER – While children inside the playroom at the Friendly House shelter on Elm Street this past Thursday afternoon played with toys and read books, occasional little faces would peer in through the window in the door to the room, waiting their turn.

In a city with thousands of homeless children, even a small respite like playtime can be a scarcity.

“It’s like a revolving door here,” said Casey Zink, playspace program director for the Central region of Horizons for Homeless Children, which has installed playrooms like Friendly House’s in dozens of shelters across the state. “As soon as one family moves out, another one’s ready to move in.”

The extent of the youth homelessness issue in Worcester was shown in new light last week when an addiction treatment center in Florida released a study finding the city had the fifth-highest percentage of homeless students in the country. While local experts don’t seem to agree on how representative that report is of the actual issue in Worcester, city and school officials, at least, are taking it as a call to reexamine the city’s youth homelessness problem.

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