Housing Insecurity among College Students

One of the biggest social problems facing Americans today is the need for housing. The root cause is the Covid 19 pandemic which led to economic instability. As a result, the number of homeless individuals has increased. Housing insecurity is also affecting many other aspects of society, including student success. giving this, State funds for the building of new units has been suggested to be one option for decreasing the number of homeless people. Another strategy is reducing the enrollment of students in colleges, to give universities time to meet the demand before saturating the system. However some argue that that can be a barrier for many who are trying to build a better life. The last proposition: Refine the Law so that Schools can have better Programs in order to support homeless Students. It seems promising , however, the funds needed to make that happen are low. Therefore it will not increase supply or services for the homeless. The most effective advocacy is to have the states provide funding every year for housing projects, which will eventually help decrease the housing shortage. If the state funds schools, it will result in more support to continued building units while at the same time, housing insecurity in the long term.
Source: Homeless Graduating Seniors, LAUSD.
Kennya Adner and her husband moved from Michigan to Sacramento, California, in the 1990s to attend community college. They worked hard for four years, studying and working, before her husband applied and was accepted to UC Berkeley. In his acceptance letter, there was a note that said, "You should have been on the waiting list for housing two years ago”(UC Berkeley admission). It was here that housing insecurity arose. They couldn't commute from Sacramento to Berkeley; they couldn't afford off-campus and on-campus housing. It appears that their dream of a college had vanished. However, He managed, found a place and graduated, becoming a successful person. Twenty years later, his daughter ran into the same problem. This is the story of many students who struggle to find housing to the point of becoming homeless. Some advocates have proposed reducing enrollment on campuses, expanding the definition of laws and state funds for more units.

Today According to a state Assembly report, "About 5% of UC students, 10% of California State University students, and 20% of California community college students report being homeless at some point during the academic year" ( Pacella, 2021). This tells us that homelessness is an issue for many students at different parts of the education system. Some of the root causes for homeless students have been the pandemic, housing shortage and housing prices which are not affordable. According to Tabashir Z. Nobari, “The COVID-19 pandemic has increased rates of both food and housing insecurity among college students. The 2021 #RealCollege study found that nearly 3 in 5 college students faced some form of basic needs insecurity in 2020 (Mark) and ”Eight percent of students reported being homeless at least once. UC campuses also suffer from housing shortages. For example “UC Berkeley has enough on-campus housing for only about 20% of its students'' (Burket Michael). This is significant because due to this some students have no option than to live in their cars and streets. Because even off campus housing is not an option due to high prices which makes it expensive for many students who don’t have a stable income or a lot of income. According to student survey data, on‑campus living costs (consisting of both housing and food costs) average $17,259 across UC campuses, with costs ranging from $16,145 (San Diego) to $20,236 (Berkeley). At CSU, the systemwide average cost is $14,401, with costs ranging from $10,758 (Fresno) to $19,330 (San Diego)” (). Therefore due to the housing prices going up and housing shortage many college students are homeless. In face of this problem, there has been governmental action.
Some of the accomplishments around housing insecurity and homelessness in California have been: “Subtitle VII-B of The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act which authorizes the federal and is the primary piece of federal legislation related to the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness. It was reauthorized in December 2015 by Title IX, Part A, of the ”( NCHE). As a more recents effort in 2019 due to the pandemic, there was an effort to reduce the amount of students in the street. For example The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act, was passed by Congress on March 27th, 2020. It provided $14 billion to the Office of Postsecondary Education as the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, or HEERF’’(Ed Gov). This was basically emergency grants for college or career school students. In order to reduce their economic hardship during the pandemic in efforts to keep them in school and in their homes. This money helps many students with rent, food and gas. As a more recent effort. This year’s school budget included “$1.4 billion to build more student housing. That money is for housing projects at five UC campuses, nine CSU campuses and 12 community colleges. At the same time, legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, make it easier for campuses to build housing on their own. would exempt student housing projects built on land owned by UC, CSU or a community college from the California Environmental Quality Act”(Burke Michael). This is significant because we are seeing government action on the issue. By providing funds and legislation for the possibility of creating new units and supporting them to reduce their concerns.
As we can see there have been efforts to support students during a hard time however the issue of housing insecurity is still an issue and those help are for a short amount of time. We don't need a crisis to make the government support students with their housing insecurity. This issue has impacted many areas of students such as health and academic success. Therefore, there is an urgent need to establish long-term support and solutions to meet the housing demand on campuses. Some advocates have proposed reducing enrollment on campuses, expanding the definition of laws and state funds for more units.
Solutions that have been propose:
Housing should not be a concern for students, or really anyone. which is why Dr. Julia Frey Boyd, who holds two degrees—a Master's and PhD in real estate—has joined to advocate for the housing issue and proposes economic theory as a way to solve the issue. She claims that "According to economic theory, supply and demand determine the price of goods and services" (Frey). To decrease the price, we increase the supply by using technology that builds houses in less time. Another solution advocates believe will work is the implementation of rent control, they believe that it will benefit many by providing affordable housing and reducing evictions and homelessness. However, it will not solve the housing demand. According to Alex Tobarrock an economist, rent control will actually cause a housing shortage. He believes that by implementing rent control, in the long run, few apartments will be built. In addition State funds is the idea of government monetary support at all levels, such as shelter programs, education, and housing projects. This approach will eventually help support students and decrease the housing shortage. But for research I need it to make a conclusion on their impacts on the issue.

Solution I: Maintain or reduce the number of enrollment on Campuses so that the Housing demand can be met.
One solution to this problem is to reduce or maintain the low number of enrollments. This is a solution that has not been implemented but advocates have predicted the outcomes by comparing small and big schools. The motivation behind this solution is that many universities and colleges are facing a housing shortage, and even a small increase in enrollment will have significant impacts on the number of homeless students. As of today, "The University of California plans to add 23,000 students to its 10-campus system by 2030, and California State University, the largest public four-year university system in the country, aims to add 10,000 spots"(Bloomberg). The motivation behind this plan is that, during the pandemic, many universities and colleges saw a “drop in enrollment of about 1.1% in undergraduate enrollment in the fall of 2022”(Gallegos). Although their motivation is good, they are not taking into account the housing shortage and the scarce resources for students. In November 2022, The LA time article claimed that “About 9,400 students systemwide were denied university housing this fall because of shortages”(LA times). This is significant because there is clearly a housing shortage and trying to increase enrollment on campuses "will dramatically increase student homelessness" (Moralez). This is because those in support of a reduction in enrollment like parents, students and reporters believe and agree with UC board of regents regent Jay Sures ( B.A. in Economics from UCLA.) who said “ increasing enrollment may be unrealistic. “I think we’re going to have to get real here about this conversation of, on one hand, increasing enrollment and bringing more students to Berkeley, and on the other hand, we have no place to put them” ( Burke, , Marquez Rosalez and Panoo). Which is important because many schools are looking for a way to get more money to their school and are not concerned about where those students will be housed or live. As shown in Figure 1 there is so much demand and increasing enrollment at this point is not beneficial. In addition, according to a study, "higher numbers of students will result in pressure to expand financial and other services for students, something institutions have not traditionally provided" (Skinkle & Ender.son, 2014). This is something we've seen at many schools, including UCI, where thousands of students are now homeless and the only program available is the Basic Needs program. which do so little to support those students without homes because it requires them to pass through a process that takes longer, and some end up not qualifying for the support. This is significant because a reduction in student enrollment will give universities the time necessary to meet the demand for housing and implement services for students with housing insecurity. which is important because they will not oversaturate an already saturated system. Research found that "teacher self-reports suggested that smaller classes gave them more time to help individual students experiencing learning difficulties" (Laitsch, Nguyen, & Younghusband). The same can apply to reducing or maintaining the number of enrollments at a low level for students in colleges because schools will have the resources to support students with housing insecurity and meet the demand. In general, findings indicate that smaller schools have the potential to facilitate increased learning, benefit students at risk, and improve students' academic achievement and services (Blatchford et al., 2003; Finn & Achilles, 1990; Finn et al., 1991; Glass & Smith, 1978, 1979; Iversen & Bonesronning, 2013; Konstantopoulos & Chung, 2009; Molar et al., 1999; Shin & Chung, 2009; Smith). This solution effort is promising because it will assist schools by supporting students and better prepare for the future by building houses to meet current demand and even more for future enrolled students.
However, opponents believe that a reduction in enrollments will affect universities because "this scale of impact could translate into millions of dollars in additional tuition revenue lost" (Alex). But this argument is weak because what is best for the student is not how much money universities will gain or lose; it is about the student's well-being and a way to support them now with the money we have. Scholars believe that "more money means better facilities for the school such as higher quality residence halls" ( GriffinNews) . Economists as well as school officials strongly agree with this because they are motivated by money. However increasing enrollment and gaining more money doesn't solve the limited amount of space campuses face and this will lead to a saturated system in which the most affected will be the students, ,who will have no space to live forcing them to live on the streets, and universities will have limited services due to a high number of students enroll. Schools should focus on students, not money. Overall, keeping or reducing the number of students enrolled will be beneficial because schools will have a sufficient number of students and will assist them with their housing insecurity for better college success.
Figure 3 by (Xie Yuxuan). Housing Occupancy by Campus
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Solution II: Refine the Law so that Schools can have better Programs in order to support homeless Students.
According to the federal law known as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, colleges and universities need to guarantee the educational rights and safeguards of youth who are homeless. It requires universities and all educational authorities (LEAs). to make sure that homeless students have access to the same kind of support for their educational success. Due to this law, UCI has established a program called "UCI Basic Needs," and under this program, "Sponsored Housing" provides up to 30 days of temporary housing with a meal plan at UCI for students who are currently facing homelessness per the McKinney-Vento definition" (UCI). The issue is that under this program, many students are required to be "currently enrolled with full- or part-time status."(UCI). However, due to financial reasons, many students are not full-time students, this makes the process longer and, at the end, they are not eligible. Currently, "hundreds of UCI students struggled to find affordable housing this year due to financial barriers and a lack of available on-campus housing. According to an email from Vice Chancellor Willie Banks Jr., there were 1016 students on the waitlist as of October 5, according to the latest UCI Student Housing update" ( Campus News Writer). This tells us that we need a better program that can assist students, especially those that are not eligible, and the best way to do this is by refining the law so that schools can have better programs in order to support homeless students. Currently, all over the education system, “nearly 60 percent of formerly homeless youths in favor of better programs, said in a survey that their schools did a fair or poor job of supporting them while they were homeless and that a lot more should be done” (LA Education). Not only that but "In California, over 80% of the student population do not qualify for HUD services" (news). To ensure students can access education services, housing and homeless assistance. “Federal lawmakers should revise the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and improve the formula so that students can get more support within their schools” (Burns,Dion, Espinoza, Danny, Ondrash Naomi,and Yang Man). By requiring schools to improve their program for all homeless students. And add programs for those that in one way or another do not qualify for current programs. This solution is rooted in efforts to better the school program that to now have been inefficient to those students facing homelessness. The main supporters of better programs and the refining of the law have been scholars from the health center. Such as Emily Bernier, BA (Hons), Jennifer Boman, PhD, and Calgary, Alberta, Dr. Melissa A. Boyce, in a study “ Through 14 one-on-one interviews with students, they found 3 major themes were developed: (1) prioritize mental health, (2) provide and guide to accessible supports, (3) increase mental health literacy” (Lindsay BL, Bernier E, Boman J, Boyce MA. Understanding the Connection Between Student Wellbeing). This is significant because due to a high number of students being homeless and having housing concerns they are unable to do well in school and are under constant stress leading to health problems. In order to prevent that we need better programs to help support students. The best way to do so is by refining the law so that schools can have better programs in order to support students who are struggling to find housing.
Solution III: Increases state funds for housing.
The propositions so far seem to not solve the issue in the long run, which is why the best solution according to scholars, news and advocates is state funding for more units on campuses. This is because universities will receive the support needed to meet the demand for housing, benefiting students who are looking for a place to live in the long run. The motivation is that they see the urgent need of building new homes on campus to meet the demand. As well because the number of homeless students has been increasing due to housing shortage and unaffordable housing off campus. As of today, many advocates celebrate the fact that this year’s budget “included $1.4 billion to build more student housing because that money will support housing projects at five UC campuses, nine CSU campuses, and 12 community colleges'” ( smith). Something that year back seemed impossible. Now that this is a reality many advocates feel that those efforts in support of the housing shortage in many campuses will continue now that the issue has gained governmental attention. However, Many are skeptical that those units will still take time to be actually open for students, while others agree that the time has been reduced because a project that would have taken years now has been reduced to months. Which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Even in the long run, the state fund for housing every year will be beneficial to schools because they will have the money necessary to build homes more and more, in less time than previously predicted. Making housing demand achievable in less time For example A housing project at UCLA that’s supposed to by next year $180,000 per bed. The 20% the whole UC system is to get from the $2 billion pool would fall just short of covering two of those structures”(calmatters). However, although it will fall short, a small amount is always impactful in the fight against housing shortages. which also shows that schools won't be able to cover the cost of housing themselves and will need even more state funds to meet the demand for housing and actually start to house students that have long been on the streets without a safe home.
One of the reasons why this is the best solution compared to a reduction in enrollment is because reducing enrollment can be a barrier for many students who are trying to get into higher education. Leaving students in poverty without proper access to education. On the other hand, state funds will help support those students that want to achieve a higher education and will give them a place to stay mostly in the future. Already having financial aid supporting them will overall reduce their chances of becoming homeless, and they will be less likely to drop out due to financial concerns about housing insecurity. State funds for more units is also the best solution because it is very unlikely that lawmakers will actually refine the law that can make schools accountable for homeless student support. And even if they do refine the laws and require universities and colleges to provide more support and establish more programs, that will not happen due to the fact that many universities and schools are on a budget and don't have the means necessary to add or create new programs to support students. For this reason, state funds for more units will help support students by giving universities the means necessary to create more housing in order to address the real issue, which is the housing shortage, so that students can be housed. In the long run, universities and colleges will be able to meet demand with the help of state funding, and the number of homeless students will decrease.."In the long run, a small support will make a difference for the future ."(Katz)
Overall, the housing crisis within campuses is not new and some effort has been done to meet the demand for housing. However, there is an urgent need to support students who are housing insecure. The main reason is because they are students who can't focus in class due to a constant concern of housing and food. And by not properly supporting them with housing some have an impact on their health but also on their success in academia. By providing schools with state funds mainly for housing projects universities will be more likely to meet the housing shortage. By building more houses, it will help students get affordable housing and decrease their chances of becoming homeless. Although it will take time, as supply increases in the future, the wait would be longer without the support, and eventually, just as housing costs increase, the number of students with stable and affordable housing will also increase. This solution will solve the root problem, which is housing supply for the homeless, unlike reducing enrollment, which will cause barriers for many who are trying to move up the ladder of poverty. It will also provide monetary support for both building materials and land access. By providing more state funding, universities will have the resources needed to build more units, meeting the high demand for housing and reducing the number of students facing housing insecurity or homelessness in the long run, so that many generations after will actually see improvement in the housing crisis.
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