This week, The Temple News profiled two students experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity at Temple University. The story highlights some of the university’s resources, like the Student Emergency Aid Fund and the Swipe Out Hunger pilot program, that assist students experiencing these issues.
Forty-six percent of students in the United States have experienced housing insecurity in the last year, the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice reported. More shockingly, 12 percent have experienced homelessness.
At Temple, more than a third of students who responded to the Hope Center’s #RealCollege Survey in 2018 said they did not have consistent access to food or housing. Seven percent were homeless.
Though food and housing insecurities are becoming a part of the campus’ dialogue, most of us have the privilege to return to a home after classes or for the upcoming Fall Break. Some students, like Camellia Brown and Thailee Rivas, do not have this privilege and we thank them for sharing their experiences with our readers.
The university has to seriously consider both short-term and long-term solutions to the issue of students experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness.
A number of other colleges and universities nationwide initiated programs to help students struggling with housing and food insecurity. Tacoma Community College in Tacoma, Washington, provides vouchers for subsidized rent for 150 students in need, according to the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit news hub that covers education. Schools like California State University Long Beach and Ohio University accept food stamps at their on-campus stores, which would help students experiencing food insecurity.
Temple should develop a 24-hour basic needs helpline, where students struggling with food and housing insecurity can speak to an operator about their emergency needs at any time. The Charles Library and the TECH Center should be open 24 hours all week long so students have some overnight shelter with heating and access to facilities. Rooms in residence halls could be blocked off and designated for students experiencing housing insecurity as a form of a long-term shelter.
The Editorial Board commends the CARE Team, the Dean of Students office, student organizations and the Cherry Pantry for their significant progress in providing resources so far. We would like to suggest for the university to consolidate the resources already at its disposal under one umbrella and establish a separate office, dealing solely with homelessness on campus. This could provide students with more targeted, streamlined support.
We understand that we come from a position of privilege, as do many of Temple’s administrators and that our proposals are biased from that limited perspective. We encourage the university to always listen to students experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity before instituting any major policy changes or initiatives.
We recognize that students experiencing these issues are stakeholders in this decision process, and we want to ensure that their voices are central in this discussion.