‘Gimme Shelter’: California’s housing crisis forces college students into homelessness
JESSICA BLUM (LA Times)
On Thanksgiving weekend, a young man at a food bank in San Francisco is about to spend Thanksgiving at home. In the morning, he heads to school in East Los Angeles, where his mother and siblings live. But he never makes it: on his way to school, he must take three different buses because he doesnít have his own transportation. The young man doesnít have a car, nor does he plan to buy one. If he could afford a new car, perhaps one for himself, as a way of improving his parentsí quality of life, he might have a place to lay down his head.
His story may inspire you. It is a common one in many places across the United States. And it is a story of the struggle to provide adequate housing for college students. In the next five years, the housing crisis will affect students as well as their parents, teachers and neighbors. It will push them to the edge of despair. In California, more than three-quarters of undergraduate students can no longer afford to pay rent, and 1 in 5 renters is homeless.
The problem is most acute in California, one of the major housing-related issues in the nation. The problem is even more acute for college students. With the increasing costs of tuition and room and board, and with housing costs, student debt, and the pressure of an increasingly competitive job market, the housing crisis becomes a growing economic concern for this generation. It also presents a moral and political challenge.
The young man at the food bank is a Californian. He is 28. He, his mother, his brother and his sister are all struggling to find a place to live. The family lives in an East Los Angeles neighborhood that is near a high school and a college campus. But for him, on his first day at college, the neighborhood has turned into a war zone.
At the food bank, he struggles to find places to lay down his head. He looks down at the tarp he is sitting or sleeping on and wonders if it really works all the time. He can hear the rats running across the floor beneath his feet. There are piles of garbage and overflowing trash cans.
He hears the voice of a woman calling to a young man walking through the neighborhood with a dog. He hears the man, who is not young, giving her a hard time. The