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A Public Issue of Student Homelessness

A Public Issue of Student Homelessness

WRITTEN BY TRACY JONES

 

When you think of transients or the homeless you don’t typically think of a college student do you?  But here at our very own Shasta College, this is currently a reality for many students.  Throughout my time here at Shasta I meet far too many students that are couch surfing, living at the shelter, or even flat out living at the camps that are all around Redding.  Why is this happening?  Are a number of students simply lacking the drive to get up and get jobs, or find the proper resources needed to acquire stable housing?  Or is there another reason that’s making this, nearly unheard of, issue occur?  Surprisingly enough, most people are quite unaware that this is going on.  To get a better understanding, and hopefully create a better awareness of this issue, I conducted an interview with Sandra Hamilton Slane, the Associate Dean of Student Services, she informed me that presently it is unsure what the exact rates of homeless students are and it is rather difficult to collect that data.  She, herself has worked with students that are facing this issue so even though unsure of the statistics we still know that it does exist.

When asked what she felt some of the correlating factors that are contributing to this issue are she responded, “Well I think housing, especially rental housing, is expensive in Redding.  We don’t have a lot of alternate forms of housing, like single room occupancies, shared housing.  We have dorms and that works for some students, but a lot of students can’t maintain the GPA or credits required to live in the dorms.  Our location, being outside the city Center makes transportation always a problem.  So with students I’ve worked with I’ve seen many of them have transportation and no housing or housing and no transportation.”

Sharon Brisalora Associate Dean of Student Services

 

The issue of transportation in itself poses a difficult choice for those that are seeking higher education. The choice of expanding your education and future possibilities come with the choice between housing and being able to get to the campus or no housing but being able to attend classes.  Not only is there the issue of being able to find affordable housing and transportation, there is the struggle of finding a job that might be flexible in terms of a student’s class schedule and a myriad of other troubles that students face.

So what’s being done?  Fortunately a number of different faculty and staff of the college are aware and trying to find possible solution to the problem.  In an interview with the Associate Dean of Access and Equity, Sharon Brisalora, she share a number of the concerns that Mrs. Slane had expressed and filled me in on different methods that are currently in place or in the process of being put in place to help the students.  These methods range from an auto filing system that will make the filing process of financial aid run a bit smoother, to developing a community resource plan and committee for addressing food insecurity among Shasta College students.  Mrs. Brisolara feels that it is of great importance that students know that this issue is being addressed and the administration is trying to help as much as possible.  Its important for these students to know that they are not alone and there are resources that are available to them.  If you’re facing these issues you can go to the office of access and equity just down the hall from the bookstore, or EOPS in the student center.

It is important for all of us, faculty and students to come together in an attempt to help each other.  The administration needs just as much help from students to understand what it is that we as students need to be addressed.  I think that we can agree that we live in some difficult times and the struggle is definitely real, so let’s try to help each other out as much as we can.
Access and Equity info

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