It’s the side of college that you don’t often hear about. Rising tuition and rent costs are forcing many students into desperate housing situations. A staggering nine percent of students across the country were homeless last year; some sleeping in cars, libraries or even outside. We’ll meet a woman who has come up with a plan to take them off the streets and into the homes of willing families.
As a college student, Louie Casillas Ramos doesn’t take anything for granted. For him, the phrase ‘starving student’ has a much deeper meaning.
Louis told Ivanhoe, “I hate the word homeless. My stepfather passed away after my sophomore year.”
But he’s not alone. About 57,000 students across the country are homeless. Financial aid or part-time jobs typically don’t cover the cost of housing, leaving students to sleep in places such as libraries, storage units, and even outside.
Christi Carpenter Grossman, founder of Homecoming and a teacher from Oakland, California, told Ivanhoe, “It’s really incredible that people go to such heroic measures to get their education. But I also think that people shouldn’t have to do that.”
And that’s why Grossman started the non-profit, Homecoming. It aims to match students in need with those who are willing to offer a spare room in their home to them at no charge.
Grossman detailed “I really think there’s an opportunity here. I think people see the homelessness problem but they feel what can I do, well here’s something you can do.”
The stays are short-term; typically a few weeks or months to help a student finish a semester. First, both hosts and collegians must fill out a form on homecoming’s website, provide two references. Then an in-depth interview process follows.
Grossman said, “Taking people into your home doesn’t have to be scary. It’s something we can do as a matter of practice.”
“Just having a place to lay your head at night takes away all that stress and anxiety,” said Louie.
Louie now has a roof over his head and is helping others on campus who are struggling.
Louie continued, “All you have to do is ask for help. It can really make or break a student.”
Homecoming currently serves the San Francisco Bay area, with aims to connect with other communities. Similar programs are also available in Minneapolis, Cincinnati, and Irving, Texas. Many colleges are also beginning to offer food pantries and temporary services for those in need.