With the cost of living in California increasing, the possibility for Stan State students to face shelter insecurities also increases.
Around 11 percent of California State University's (CSU) students have faced shelter insecurities at least once in the past 12 months according to a study conducted by the California State University Basic Needs Initiative.
Stan State has taken the steps necessary to help assist the students who find themselves struggling with shelter insecurities. Andy Klingelhoefer, Interim Associate Vice President and Dean of Students at Student Affairs is the coordinator in charge of helping students overcome this obstacle.
“For housing insecurity, we do a couple of things. If somebody is in an emergency situation, we can offer up to two weeks of no-cost housing on campus. We also have a couple of grants that can assist students with housing bills. We have another grant that can allow for deposits, down payments, rent,” said Klingelhoefer.
These resources can be obtained by being referred to the office or showing up in person. If someone wants a complete discrepancy, they can sign up online on the Student Affairs page by clicking under the Campus Cares link. There you can fill out a Crisis Assistance Request form which consists of 10 short questions.
“It comes automatically to this office and I or Jen will meet with the student right away as soon as we can get a time together. Then talk about their specific needs are and we can decide where we might be able to help them and where that funding may come from,” said Klingelhoefer.
Jennifer Sturtevant is the new Care Manager in Student Affairs and although she is new to this position, she brings extended knowledge and experience in homelessness to this campus.
“I have a background of being involved with social services, around the hunger and homelessness in our community. I hope to bring those skill sets to the campus community to help aid in the programs that are happening on campus to help support students and bring outreach and awareness so students who might be in need know where to go.”
Klingelhoefer explained how the process to obtain extra aid in scholarships and grants worked.
“Sometimes students are eligible for aid that they don’t know about. We go through the financial aid office first to find out if they are eligible for anything they have not already taken. We make sure they know how to get that. For anything that doesn’t fall into that category, we have a small committee made up primarily of faculty that I present the information I collected from sitting and meeting with the student and make recommendations.”
Although this process is aiding in reducing shelter insecurities for students, the reality of homelessness cuts deeper than the surface.
“It is very hard to be a student, transgender and homeless. Every night I have to look for a place to sleep and I do not have internet connection, so it is very hard to do my homework, most of the time I am doing my homework with a flashlight in my sleeping bag. I can’t keep my light in my car or else the battery will die out,” said Dimitri Hiyood (senior, History).
The everyday necessities like showering and going to the bathroom are things we take for granted while Hiyood wakes up every morning unsure of how they can access these resources.
Being transgender and homeless makes it impossible for Hiyood to stay at a shelter.
“I have been homeless for five months and I cannot go to shelters because I am transgender, it is not safe for me. It is better to be out in the streets than a shelter but the streets are dangerous too.”
Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community makes it extremely dangerous for anyone in the community to stay in shelters as they are often not accepted and treated badly, but that does not take away Hiyood’s strength.
“Just because we don’t live other people’s standard of life doesn’t mean our life is not there and I know some people are not there but all I tell them is that I hear you. That’s all I say, that’s all that matters, I hear you. Everyone is homeless for different reasons, some are temporary some are permanent all we can do is share love in many different ways and just hear ourselves.”
Julissa Ruiz Ramirez (senior, Political Science, Ethnic Studies) is a representative for Students for Quality Education (SQE) and she argues that there are not enough resources for homeless students on our campus and they are not accessible.
“It is not accessible at all. I ended up finding out that they only have two emergency housing units. This doesn't take into consideration people's gender identity as not everyone identifies with this gender binary system of being either a male or female, but rather, we have Stan State students who identify as being Trans, gender nonbinary, and gender nonconforming. Admin also mentioned they would only house them for a couple of weeks, when the California policy requires universities to house houseless students the whole academic year, including the summer, if they need it and are currently enrolled.”
A solution Hiyood gave that Stan State could possibly implement is to have a secure spot on campus where students can set up tents or park their cars so they do not have to be forced to be out in the streets.
Although Stan State has no long-term homelessness solutions, “I worked on a lot of different CSU’s, and we have more resources available for our student support than any other place I've worked with. The problem has been, as you know students don’t know about them,” said Klingelhoefer.