The number of college kids who are also homeless is staggering. I assumed maybe just a small handful of kids didn’t have a place to crash after classes but this data shocked the hell out of me.
Sean McLean’s first day of college at the University of Massachusetts Boston came on the heels of sobering news: The night before, he and his family were evicted from their home in Woburn, 9 miles north of Boston.
“I went to school knowing that later that day I would be packing up everything I owned and going to a shelter,” said McLean, now 19.
McLean is one of more than 58,000 homeless college students in America today, according to Free Application for Federal Student Aid data from the 2012-2013 academic year. The figure — which does not account for students who either do not realize they qualify as homeless (i.e., couch-surfers) or those who choose not to report their cases out of fear or shame — marks a more than 75 percent increase over the previous three years. Administrators and poverty advocates nationwide attribute the recent spike in homelessness among college students to several leading factors: a parent losing a job, a lack of affordable housing and rising tuition costs.
The article details the lives of a few students who are homeless while attending institutions of higher learning. I don’t think I went to school with any homeless students like Sean. I’m just not sure if I’d realize a fellow student didn’t have a place to live. But with 58,000 homeless students, and possibly a ton more undocumented or unwilling to admit they don’t have a place to live, there’s a solid chance you know a homeless guy or girl at school. But how can you tell?
Here are six signs that a kid you go to school with might be homeless.
1) They always seem to be coming from their car and the car is usually parked in the same spot. The car is also packed with stuff usually found in a house. Things like a portable grill, tons of blankets or toiletries.
2) They’re always hanging out in places on campus until late at night but not really doing anything. They’re in the library until it closes, in the student center way passed regular hours or just hanging around in the lounge of random dorms.
3) You don’t know where they live or if they even live on campus. In fact, they’ve never even mentioned it. If you ask other people where the possibly homeless person lives you’ll either get an answer of “no idea” or everyone will name a different dorm or house.
4) They’re constantly crashing in your room or another person’s room and making up a reason why like they “hate their roommate” or “it’s just easier to get to class.”
5) They wear the same clothes — often. We all recycle outfits but they’re wearing the same thing almost every day.
6) They take more food from the cafeteria than normal. We all used to take food but it seems like they’re sneaking out entire meals under their sweatshirts or in their book bags.
If you suspect a friend at school is homeless it’s best not ask because they won’t be honest with an answer. Just do your best to help out in different ways until they eventually come clean about their situation.
[H/T: Huffington Post]