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A Striking Number of College Students Are Hungry and Homeless



#RealCollege and Real Lives: Housing Insecurity and Homelessness in Higher Ed

At the age of 35 and caring for her 9-year-old son, Mary Baxter found herself without a place to live last summer. Forced from her apartment because of unlivable conditions and her landlord facing foreclosure, Baxter knew she needed to go back to school.

“For me, it wasn’t an option,” says Baxter, who received a two-year art and design degree from Community College of Philadelphia in May 2016.

Unable to afford the art schools she had been accepted to, like NYU and University of Chicago, she returned to Community College of Philadelphia in Fall 2016. Baxter wanted to further her education for a better job that would allow her to escape poverty.

“How can you feed yourself on $8 an hour with a kid and pay rent?” Baxter says. “There’s no way.”

Baxter’s predicaments are not uncommon among community college students.

A new study by Wisconsin HOPE Lab founder Sara Goldrick-Rab and two co-authors found that thousands of community college students nationwide are homeless or on the verge of homelessness. The Wisconsin HOPE Lab says it’s “the nation’s first laboratory for translational research aimed at improving equitable outcomes in postsecondary education.”

The study surveyed more than 30,000 students at 70 community colleges in 24 states. It found that 13-14% of students were homeless and about half were housing insecure, meaning they’ve missed rent payments or couch-surf from place to place. The survey also found that two-thirds of community college students are food insecure, meaning they lack the resources to properly feed themselves.

If you’d like to help support Mary she has a GoFundMe page

The Wisconsin HOPE Lab is the nation’s first laboratory for translational research aimed at improving equitable outcomes in postsecondary education. The Lab will help to make findings from basic science useful for practical applications that enhance college attainment and human well being throughout the state, and in turn, the nation.

Sara Goldrick-Rab is Professor of Higher Education Policy & Sociology at Temple University, and Founder of the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, the nation’s only translational research laboratory seeking ways to make college more affordable.

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Since its launch in November 2008, Invisible People has leveraged the power of video and the massive reach of social media to share the compelling, gritty, and unfiltered stories of homeless people from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. The vlog (video blog) gets up close and personal with veterans, mothers, children, layoff victims and others who have been forced onto the streets by a variety of circumstances. Each week, they’re on InvisiblePeople.tv, and high traffic sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, proving to a global audience that while they may often be ignored, they are far from invisible.

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