ATHENS, WV (WVNS) — When many people think of homelessness, they think of someone living on the street or going in and out of homeless shelters. However, homelessness can go further than not having a place to live.
In March of 2021, The Hope Center at Temple University conducted a survey of nearly 200,000 students attending colleges and universities around the country. Nearly three in five students said they experienced basic needs insecurity. Housing insecurity impacted 48% of those students and 14% of them were affected by homelessness. But how can you watch for these things?
“If we see changes in behavior, if they are a student who typically goes to class and they are talkative. If they start to miss class, they are more reserved than normal. Those are some signs we might look for,” said Sarah Beasley the Dean of Students and VP of Student Affairs at Concord University.
In a survey from the fall of 2020 Concord University recorded that 50% of students experienced at least one form of basic needs insecurity.
“We had about 15% who did indicate homelessness and that does include couch surfing, staying with relatives and 37% indicated housing insecurity. Meaning they couldn’t afford rent one month or utilities, things like that so it is an issue on college campuses. Not just on college campuses but it is a national problem,” Beasley said.
Concord University continues its work to lower these numbers because they believe students come to school to learn and expand their education. It becomes more difficult to do that when they are worried about where their next meal is going to come from or where they might sleep that night.
“We’ve had students homeless who lived in their car, or they lived on the campground at Pipestem State Park and sometimes we find out about those students, and sometimes we don’t. We know that if students are hungry if they are struggling to find a safe secure place to live, they obviously can’t focus on academics, and we want them to be successful college students,” Beasley said.
Concord offers help for students through their campus food pantry and their professional clothing closet. The University also offers an Emergency Grant Fund called the GAP fund, which helps students pay for things like rent, food, or even a car repair.
“A couple of years ago we started a basic needs committee on campus. There is a group of facility, staff who are doing things to help meet these kinds of needs of our students,” said Beasley.
It is also important to fill out your FASFA, Beasley said it is one of the most important forms you can fill out as you head to college; even if you don’t think you qualify. You can also explore scholarship opportunities at CFWV.com
“There are need-based scholarships, there are merit scholarships so if you have a particular talent or skill and there is just a slew of them out there,” said Beasley
Beasley wanted to remind students at Concord and even across the state that you are not alone if you are struggling. It takes a lot of courage to ask for help but there are people out there who really do want to help.
“We will do anything that we can to help, and a lot of people want to help. So don’t be afraid to ask,” Beasley said.