Home student success How Institutions Can Better Support Students Experiencing Homelessness

How Institutions Can Better Support Students Experiencing Homelessness

by C4If

Final Fall, Prepared Schooling had the chance to attach with Annastacia Espinoza, a scholar from one among our companion faculties who has skilled homelessness for the previous two years. Her story, shared under, captures so lots of the largely unstated challenges college students in comparable circumstances face. 

Annastacia writes about how she was vocal on campus about her expertise being homeless. In explaining her struggles with being homeless to her friends and school, she hoped to eradicate the stigma. It was vital to her that homeless college students felt accepted with out feeling disgrace or judgment. She encourages readers to rethink how they view and relate to the difficulty and presents some highly effective ideas for the way increased schooling establishments can higher help college students experiencing homelessness.

Particularly, she urges directors to eradicate “ghost sources,” sources so laborious to seek out and so not often talked about that it’s like they don’t exist in any respect. 

Many schools and universities have sources for homeless college students, and if a campus has any sources, it ought to be promoted to the fullest,” she writes, urging universities to seek out higher methods to share the packages they’ve in place  to assist college students experiencing homelessness. 

One other suggestion is to usually survey enrolled college students to raised perceive what number of college students at their establishment are presently experiencing homelessness and in want of sources. Annastacia believes this type of information might assist schools higher perceive the necessity at their college for these sorts of packages, assist universities safe extra funding to help them and normalize dialogue and expertise of homelessness. 

And at last, Annastacia’s piece makes it abundantly clear how essential it’s that universities set up belief with their college students, for it’s that belief that makes the distinction between a scholar feeling snug reaching out for assist and a scholar feeling alone and misplaced, shying away from looking for help, and ultimately dropping out. She even spoke with two different college students experiencing homelessness and shared that the distinction between their capability to entry the college’s sources got here all the way down to how snug and protected they felt asking for assist. 

To us at Prepared Schooling, many people who’re former college directors ourselves, Annastacia’s message reads loud and clear––increased schooling should discover a option to attain college students the place they’re and talk with them to construct belief from day one. 

We firmly imagine the precise cell answer is essential in establishing and constructing these sorts of supportive relationships between college students and school and between college students and their friends. Should you’re fascinated with studying extra about how we can assist your establishment and your college students, please reach out to us here

Thanks, Annastacia, for sharing your story and amplifying this vital problem.

If you recognize of a Pupil Voice we should always spotlight, please let us know by nominating them here.


College students don’t all have the help a conventional scholar has, and oftentimes they don’t have a house or a protected place to put their heads at night time. What’s homelessness, and what does it imply to stay this manner? Why is there a lot stigma behind it? Are you able to think about being a homeless scholar that’s fearful of being judged and seemed down upon — merely as a result of you do not have a house?  There are steps establishments can take to create an surroundings of acceptance and methods they will spotlight the providers they’ve obtainable for college kids who face homelessness. As a scholar who has been homeless for 2 years, I include some concepts and perception from my very own experiences. 

Oftentimes, individuals assume {that a} homeless individual is somebody you cross by sitting on benches, strolling round a car parking zone, or hanging round public locations with luggage and blankets. An individual who’s homeless is an individual and not using a dwelling. The American Psychological Affiliation gives this definition: “Homelessness exists when individuals lack protected, secure, and applicable locations to stay. Sheltered and unsheltered persons are homeless, individuals residing doubled up or in overcrowded residing conditions, or motels due to insufficient financial sources are included on this definition, as are these residing in tents, or different short-term enclosures” (American Psychological Association). Many people put individuals in classes and packing containers that go well with our stereotypes of who we predict persons are primarily based on what they’re carrying, in the event that they work, the place they work, their ages, race, and many others. Going to the grocery retailer, you choose gadgets primarily based on look and model as a result of you recognize what’s within them — we have to cease treating people like that. Persons are a lot greater than what you see on the skin. stacey_orginial image

Picture of Annastacia Espinoza

When 46% of scholars point out they’re housing insecure, we will see homelessness is a a lot bigger problem than many establishments might imagine. (The Hope Center, 2). In the course of the pandemic, 3 in 5 students were experiencing basic needs insecurities. Now that we’re in 2021, homelessness for faculty college students has risen and expanded. Many schools and universities weren’t ready for a pandemic or perhaps a pure catastrophe. Attributable to not being ready, increased schooling establishments scrambled for sources from their districts, state chancellors, and the federal authorities. Some schools have been capable of give out emergency stipends, and oftentimes college students who actually wanted them have been unable to obtain them as a result of solely a sure variety of college students have been chosen. Being ready to help deprived college students must be prioritized by increased schooling establishments. In any case, many college students attend faculty to get out of residing in poverty, to raised their lives. Serving to make a distinction in a scholar’s life can go a great distance.

stats#RealCollege 2020: 5 Years of Proof on Campus Primary Wants Insecurity (Report)


My Expertise Being a Homeless Pupil Pre-pandemic to throughout Pandemic

I’ve been a homeless faculty scholar for nearly two years. Pre-pandemic, I used to be on the road as I don’t personal a automobile. A typical week for me was to take out what I wanted to work on for varsity from my storage and hand around in espresso retailers till they closed. I’d then go to my native Complete Meals and keep till they closed at 10 pm. Afterwards, I’d take a bus to a donut store and keep there until about 2:00 – 3:00 am, then stroll about two blocks to a Norms and keep there until about 6 AM. I by no means slept and was a daily at each of those locations. I used to be good at faking not being homeless and pretending to be a devoted scholar who needed to do work all night time trigger “I didn’t have time to do it in the course of the day.” Thursdays or Fridays, I’d spend hours taking buses and trains from my campus to my foster mom’s home. It was at my foster mother’s home the place I’d get probably the most sleep out of the week and eat home-cooked meals; it was the place I had some normalcy.

At a espresso store in 2019 learning one of many many locations I stayed out whereas homeless

Dwelling like this for therefore lengthy whereas sustaining all my management roles and lecturers was very laborious, however I felt I had no selection. I imagine that issues will all the time enhance even when it doesn’t really feel prefer it. When the pandemic hit, I turned extraordinarily terrified. I had nowhere to go, and I couldn’t do my traditional routine as a result of every part was closed. I used to be anxious I must drop out of faculty in the course of the pandemic as a result of I’d not have entry to charging gadgets or wifi. Fortunately, I used to be capable of get some assist from my foster dad to remain in an Airbnb. Generally I’ve to depart the Airbnb as a result of my foster dad can’t all the time afford to assist, however I’m by no means on the streets greater than 2-3 days when this happens. 


How Golden West School Supported Me

In the course of the pandemic, Golden West School had earlier information of my state of affairs and all the time tried to do their greatest to assist. They supported me in a number of methods:

  1. The EOPS/Guardian Students program was capable of assist me a number of occasions via program funds.
  2. My educational advisor, Michelle Sambrano, has all the time gone above and past to make sure that I all the time have meals.
  3. At one level, the Guardian Students program was capable of get me help from “Collectively We Rise,” a program that assisted former foster youth with no age minimize off.
  4. I used to be given extra help by way of my faculty’s Monetary help director, Andrea Garcia, who can be the campus’s homeless liaison.

                award   Grad   gwcc-1

From left to proper: The plaque I obtained as an govt council member for the 12 months 2020-2021, 2021 my closing commencement, February 2020 throughout my energetic minds occasion the place I acquired college students to indicate help for individuals who cope with self-harm. All of those photos have been captured whereas I used to be homeless.


Pupil Tales on Being Homeless

Having advocated about homelessness, I’ve met a number of college students alongside the best way who have been open with me about their state of affairs as a result of I used to be vocal about my very own. To offer some perception into college students’ experiences with homelessness, I’ll share two scholar tales. Why one scholar selected to achieve out for assist whereas the opposite remained silent about their state of affairs. Pupil A, whom we’ll name Susan, was homeless for over a 12 months and had said this was their second time being homeless.  Pupil B, whom we’ll name Jerry, was homeless on and off since they have been 18 years outdated.

Susan’s Story

Susan was residing outdoor, sleeping on numerous seashores, and at occasions they have been capable of sleep on a pal’s sofa, however they didn’t do it too typically as they have been embarrassed that their buddies may discover out they have been homeless. This scholar instructed me that they selected to not attain out for assistance on campus as a result of they have been fearful of being judged, they felt ashamed, and have been embarrassed of anybody discovering out. 

Jerry’s Story

Jerry lived in his automobile, often parking in entrance of a park. He did attain out to the campus for assist. For him, reaching out was simple as a result of he had an amazing help system on the faculty that constructed trusting relationships with the scholar. Whenever you construct belief with college students, you make it simple for them to know who they will flip to after they start to wrestle. For Jerry, he knew who to show to.

Susan & Jerry – A Contrasting Pupil Expertise

Each Susan and Jerry went to the identical faculty, but that they had solely totally different experiences, regardless that they each have been in comparable conditions. The distinction between these college students’ experiences is that one was not solely conscious of the providers obtainable to them, and the opposite one was. Constructing belief and rapport with college students is important, and it could actually make an enormous distinction in a scholar’s life.


What establishments can do to curb the disparities of their techniques

Universities and Faculties have many providers, however how properly are these providers simple to seek out and/or accessible to college students? In my expertise, with or and not using a pandemic, faculties must discover ways to promote and prioritize their providers successfully. Particularly providers connected to stigmas like; incapacity, former foster youth, low-income providers, meals insecurity, homelessness, sexual abuse, violence, psychological well being providers, and help. If a campus has a service that may serve weak college students — it ought to be the establishment’s precedence to make such providers identified to the scholar inhabitants. 

Normalize Discussing Homelessness

College students should dig via data to seek out particular providers on their campus. A campus that talks about homelessness helps create change inside the campus’s local weather. It normalizes homelessness, and the normalization of a closely stigmatized social problem makes college students really feel extra welcome and extra vulnerable to asking for assist. Most significantly, it’ll encourage college students to really feel like it’s okay to ask for assist in these conditions. Many schools and universities have sources for homeless college students, and if a campus has any sources, they need to be promoted to the fullest. 

Get rid of Ghost Sources

Don’t be the faculty with ghost sources! Ghost sources are sources and packages {that a} faculty has to supply, however they by no means speak about it, so that they don’t get used typically. Sources for homeless college students shouldn’t be a secret, and I’m not saying they’re, however they could as properly be when they’re so laborious to seek out on many campuses. 

Collaborate with College students

One other wonderful means to assist scale back the stigma and promote your sources is to usually contain college students via suggestions loops and surveys. An establishment can information college students in serving to promote these sources and educating the campus on homelessness. Survey your college students yearly to collect statistics to current to your state chancellor’s workplace to achieve extra funding for college kids coping with homelessness. Most faculties have a certain quantity of funds for homeless college students, however you may get extra funding in case you survey and current information displaying that there’s a want.

The facility of a campus that promotes and advocates for homeless college students along with college students doing the identical will result in much-needed change and can go away a HUGE impression. It will take effort and time to see outcomes, however will probably be price it ultimately. Consider it as a constructing circle, a campus that thrives, and extra importantly, transforms the campus right into a campus that totally empowers scholar success. Be the change that features college students, make waves, stand tall, and do it hand in hand along with your college students. 

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