For the fifth consecutive year Medford ranks second statewide in the number of homeless students, trailing only the Portland School District.

The number of homeless students in the Medford School District climbed slightly to 1,126 last school year.

The increase of 32 homeless pupils in Medford was not as significant as the 14 percent statewide growth in homeless students. Statewide, about 18,051 students were counted as homeless.

Still, for the fifth consecutive year Medford ranks second statewide in the number of homeless students, trailing only the Portland School District. With 9.2 percent of students homeless, it also is second by percentage, after Woodburn.

"We have a pretty stable number and continue to have one of the highest percentages in the state," said Mary Ferrell, Medford schools homeless liaison. "Part of it is our local economy, part of it is the limited industry we provide and part of it is the high cost of housing."

The recession has a played a role in some cases, she said.

In the past, Ferrell and her staff at the Maslow Project, an outreach center for homeless youth housed at Kids Unlimited on Riverside Avenue, had a larger proportion of teenagers who came from generational poverty.

This was the first year the center saw a significant number of teenagers who had never experienced poverty until last year. They included teens whose parents had lost jobs or whose houses had gone into foreclosure.

Homeless students are defined as those who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence and could include those who live in an emergency shelter, share housing with others, go from one friend's house to another's or live in motels, vehicles, parks, public place, tents and trailers.

Homeless students are identified throughout the school year by teachers and other staff and through outreach by the homeless liaison.