While many students widely anticipate the moment they are able to go home for winter break and spend time with their family and friends, thousands of students dread the month-long campus shutdown as they have no home to which they can go.
Throughout the school year, many homeless college students are able to reside in dorms for free or at a reduced cost, which allows them to attend school without parental support or a social safety net, according to The Washington Post. When campuses shut down for winter, summer and other breaks, students go back to sleeping in cars and couch-surfing - lifestyles that perpetuate high dropout rates among homeless youth.
In 2018, fifty-six percent of the 86,000 nationwide college students surveyed reported housing insecurity and seventeen percent reported being homeless in the previous year. Colleges and universities can resolve this issue by "homelessness and hunger as a reality within their student body and enacting policies that guarantee access to basic needs for vulnerable students." More often than not, colleges "provide students with referral information for community-based housing resources and leave it to the student to navigate complex intake systems and eligibility assessments while also writing papers and studying for finals."
Homeless college students have been voicing their opinions, advocating for accessible housing during academic breaks and consistent, year-round campus housing. While far from being the standard, institutions like West Chester University provide proactive housing for their unaccompanied and homeless students through their Promise Programs (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education). Similarly, Kennesaw State University offers comprehensive housing support and case managers who work with students to identify long-term stable housing options. Schools that offer similar housing programs include Oregon State University, Tacoma Community College, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Santa Monica College. Short-term housing programs can be found at the California State University at Chico, Roosevelt University, and the University of Utah.
For homeless college youth looking for ways to help pay college tuition, there are several homeless college scholarships and formerly homeless college scholarships. Not only do some of these scholarship providers offer financial aid for homeless students, but they may also provide mental health advocacy and referrals and assistance in locating and establishing local contacts for general support and services.
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