According to the LA Times, Los Angeles community colleges, roughly 44,000 students are struggling with homelessness. Housing costs for students are a problem across the nation, but for foster youth the crisis can be made worse if they are not adopted or their foster families are not supportive.
Reporting on the issue, the LA Times spoke with former foster youth Myriah Smiley, 19, who had her food stamp supply cut off when she received a welfare check. Forced to resort to couch surfing as she studies and dreams of opening her own bakery, Smiley said she’s often forced to go hungry: “I cry at night and hope for better days.” Smiley’s story is not an unusual one; according to a University of Wisconsin Hope lab study, 29% of former foster youth attending community college nationally are homeless.
Homeless Youth in College Cite Textbook Costs and Hunger as Threats to Earning a Degree
As announced in a previous edition of News From The Heart, Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) received a generous grant from the Dreams R Us Foundation in December 2013. Portions of these funds were dedicated to ease the burden on homeless youth in college in New Jersey. Certain statistics indicate that the numbers of homeless or transitionally housed youth has risen by over 50% in several years. Some governmental programs help pay for fees and tuition for homeless youth in college but do not provide finances for requisite textbooks or other educational requirements. Of course, like most things, the price of books has continued to rise over time.
“Textbooks are hefty bills that amount to a knot in my stomach and an injury to my savings, instead of incredibly interesting and useful resources,” explained one applicant to the Breaking the Housing/Textbook Barrier Initiative. Once the student’s application was approved, FAFS and the Dreams R Us Foundation received a note saying, “My textbooks are no longer reminders of the financial sacrifices I make to stay afloat in college. I see them as sources of expertise, a way to broaden my interpretation of the world, and what my future career opportunities can be.” Continue reading
Increased Awareness Of Challenges Faced By Homeless College Students Leads To Action
When many of us think of college, we may envision a Saturday football game, grueling examinations, a sunny day on the green or perhaps graduation. Have you ever thought about attending college and being homeless? Unfortunately, today this problem is more prevalent than you may have ever imagined. Continue reading