Researchers show an alarming number of homeless college students from their most recent study. It is emphasized that despite colleges’ recent attempts to offer more housing or food programs, “more needs to be done.”

The Findings

In a recent study. researchers have found an alarming number of college students that are either precariously housed or completely homeless. They point out that although colleges have recently been putting more effort into their housing and food programs, “more needs to be done.”

A Temple University professor from Philadelphia, Sara Goldrick-Rob, recently published a national survey of homelessness, which assessed seventy community colleges in 24 states in the US. Her definition of “homeless” was if a student was “thrown out of a home,” “evicted,” or “had to sleep in a shelter, car or abandoned building.” She surveyed a total od 33,000 students.

“We’re the third study to find either 13 or 14 percent, so it’s consistent,” she said. “But at the same time, my bigger concern, and the thing that staggers me a little bit, is thinking this could be an underestimate.” She also noted that a third of those surveyed described themselves as “food insecure.”

She also noted that this was an electronic survey, which is not the optimal method in reaching students, particularly homeless ones, and so she suspects the number must be way higher.

Wayne State University psychology professor, Paul Toro, said: “For many people it’s a contradiction in terms — homeless college student. If you’re a college student, you had to be with it enough to get yourself into college, so obviously you can’t be homeless.”

Toro is doing similar work and has found that around 5 percent of Wayne State’s students were also either precariously housed or homeless.

“Take Wayne State’s student population of around 30,000 and take 5 percent of it, you know, it’s a lot of people,” he said, “So you’re talking about 1,500 students roughly at Wayne State.”

The Stigma Around the Issue

Goldrick-Rab comments on the stigma surrounding the issue, saying: “We have sort of had this attitude of like, ‘The kids are all right,'” she said, “We framed it as the solution, right, we framed it as you want to get out of poverty you go to college. I think we falsely told ourselves, ‘Well you’d be out of poverty then when you went to college.’ You’re not, not until you complete the degree and often times not for years after that.”

Jennifer Carr, a 37-year-old homeless student at WSU, comments on the issue: “I didn’t have anywhere to go, I lived in my car, I didn’t have my job anymore and I got evicted from my apartment. I was ashamed I was living in my car.”

Regarding the stigma, she said: “You need to talk about it more, I mean you can’t judge people,” Carr said. “There’s people that want it so bad, they want to go to school so bad that they’ll do anything, so we definitely need to talk about it.”


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