Homeless. This is not a word that most of us would associate with college students. Yet, a silent epidemic of student homelessness has spread throughout our public colleges. According to unofficial studies conducted by the California State University system, the University of California system and the Wisconsin Hope Lab, 10 percent of CSU students and 14 percent of California’s community college students are homeless. Additionally, one in four UC students are having to choose between paying for housing and paying for food. The staggering number of college students who experience homelessness and housing insecurity has grown far more severe than what most of us think of when we hear the term “starving college student.”
When I attended college at UC Irvine, I worked three jobs to pay tuition and was fortunate to live with my family. Imagine a young college student without family support, working multiple jobs, studying for exams and struggling to pay for meals — all while having to worry about finding a place to sleep each night.