EDITORIAL: Homelessness impacts students

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“It had become too emotionally stressful to the point that I would cry when my mother or sibling dropped me off at school,” Paola Palacios a member on our editorial board said of her experience as a homeless student.

Being a college student is stressful enough, but having the additional stress of not knowing where you are going to sleep for the night can put a toll on not only the mind but also the body.

According to an article by Social Solutions titled “2016’s Shocking Homeless Statistics,” there are 564,708 people that were homeless or considered homeless in 2016. Of those 564,708 people that were considered homeless, 550,00 people of those are unaccompanied, young adults under the age 24 that are homeless for longer than a week.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) was passed in 2007 and is supposed to help homeless students register as independent students for federal financial aid.

According to The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth the U.S. Department of Education stated in July 2016, it would make two important changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), these changes will help homeless students.

The department will change the wording on the FAFSFA application to support unaccompanied homeless youth. For the 2018-2019 application they will remove the word youth and will allow students that are age 22- and -23-year-old applicants to decide if they want to indicate that they are homeless or at risk of being homeless. 

Riverside City College Student Services provides some accommodations for homeless students.

Megan Bottoms is one of the faculty members that works in student services and has coordinated with other faculty members to help students that are in need.

“We have the resource center that provides food, books and toiletries,” Bottoms said. “We are looking forward to expanding that and if a student is in need of a fresh pair of socks or something to that nature.”

“One of the services that we are working on and that is up and running are showers and laundry facilities in the Wheelock Gym for students to go take showers and go wash their clothes, ” Bottoms stated.

Not every student that has been or is homeless can be comfortable saying that they are homeless.

“I waited to tell my professors that I was homeless until the end of the semester,” Palacios said. “Every time I came to school I felt like if people were staring at me as if I had the word ‘homeless’ tattooed across my forehead.”

“We are going to be giving out cards to students that are going through this difficult situation to make it more discrete,” Bottoms said.

The cards will allow homeless students to keep their information private while still receiving the help that they can get.

Associated Students of Riverside City College and Student Athletic Advisory Council recently had a clothing drive to get clothes.

“Along with the resource center there is Student Health Services and Psychological Services that help students with tune ups that our minds need and Student Financial Services,” Bottoms said.

Out of more than 19,000 students that are currently enrolled, Bottoms estimates that there are about 50 students that are homeless.

These changes are great and we believe our campus should expand on these issues and create better support to those in need, counselors should ask every student they see if they’re homeless so they can better accommodate them on their educational journey.

Students should able to feel comfortable to go to a faculty member and disclose that vulnerable piece of information and not feel ashamed about it.

College is already challenging and expensive for underprivileged students, so being displaced just adds to the multiple challenges already in line.

Having to deal with the amount of classwork and homework can be tough for a student. There might also be a student that has recently become homeless and has no idea what to do or where to go to for help because they might be ashamed that they lost their home.

With the cost of tuitions rising throughout not only the state but also the country, it is hard for students to decide what bills to pay first, or having to stress out about them not having enough for rent.

Students should not have to suffer with this problem while wanting to continue their education.

Viewpoints’ editorials represent the majority opinion of and are written by the Viewpoints’ student editorial board.

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