A growing number of students at the University of California, Davis are currently dealing with housing insecurity and homelessness, the school’s Student Housing Affordability and Insecurity Report for 2017-18 reported.
The report found that at some point during the year preceding the survey, approximately 2,400 students experienced homelessness due to being thrown out of their residence or being evicted. Additionally, many reported having couch surfed or sleeping in places not designed as housing, like cars.
Nearly 5,000 students reported that they did not have enough money to cover their full rent, and that they had to move several times throughout the year. Around 28 percent of those who reported some form of homelessness also indicated that they slept in their automobile for at least one night.
“An emergency situation forced me to leave my Davis apartment unexpectedly, and the lack of available housing left me unable to find a room to move into,” Nichole Holm, a doctoral candidate in integrative genetics and genomics, said.
“I spent two months staying at friends’ homes and sleeping on floors of spare rooms as I applied to over 100 rentals. When I was days away from living in my car, I finally secured a room, far above my graduate student budget.”
The survey found that senior students experience homelessness or housing insecurity the most. Seniors represent about 49 percent of the student population that reported some form of homelessness.
“Students are constantly pushing for more affordable places to live; however, we found that on-campus housing was the least affordable,” Don Gibson, a doctoral candidate who chaired the student-led ASUCD-GSA Housing Task Force that designed the survey, said.
“The university defines affordable units as those costing 85% of the average market rent or less, but the survey shows that only about 15% of on-campus units would qualify, while 27% in the City of Davis fall under that metric.”
The report recommended implementing various measures to address student housing insecurity, including developing a student housing data dashboard for on-campus and off-campus student housing conditions that will have indicators like vacancy rates, rent trends, affordability, occupancy densities, crowding, homelessness, housing insecurity, and widely experienced housing problems.
It also recommended improvement in Student Housing Affordability and Insecurity Survey design and implementation.
Nationally forty-six percent of students at two-year community colleges and 36 percent at four-year colleges experienced some degree of housing insecurity during the past year, a survey conducted by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab found.