Resource Guide for Homeless Students

Nearly 1.5 million students are homeless at the beginning of the school year. Nine percent of college students are homeless, while 36 percent more are housing insecure. Use our resource guide for homeless students to take advantage of local and federal resources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Interagency Council on Homelessness, and more.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Nov 21, 2020

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Approximately nine percent of college students are homeless. Another 36 percent say that they are housing insecure. The numbers are higher for community college students. For younger students, the numbers aren’t too much better. Roughly one and a half million grade school and high school students start the school year homeless.

This can affect their health, social skills, diet, mental stability, ability to learn, and access to school. Homelessness can be a serious problem for students of all ages. Instability can negatively impact grades, behavior, and the chance of attaining a diploma.

Every student should have the opportunity to focus on their studies instead of worrying about where they will sleep each night. This guide will discuss ways for students to get into housing and gain access to other important resources to allow them to continue to study and thrive.

Resources:

School Resources

If your child is in public school, there are various resources that the school may be able to provide including before and after school care to give you a chance to look for work or housing. They also have income-based breakfast and lunch programs to help cover the cost of meals.

If you are a university student, your school may be able to help with housing costs, finding housing, or providing student housing.

Each year that you apply for financial aid, your expenses, such as food and housing, will be included as needs in addition to tuition and fees. This means that any grants, scholarships, or loans that you receive can be used not just for tuition, but also for a set amount of additional living expenses.

Many schools provide student housing, and while it comes with a price tag, it can be much easier to qualify for than regular housing. Often, the only requirements are a financial aid package and enrollment in the school.

If on-campus housing is not available, some universities will also provide assistance with finding off-campus housing. In university towns, you may find some landlords and rental agencies that are more accustomed to and willing to rent to students without a previous rental history. If you do not immediately succeed, do not give up. Keep trying until you get a positive response.

Resources:

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Local Resources

Look for charities and homeless shelters locally. Often, access to these is granted by social workers in non-profit organizations that focus on the homeless or through your local Department of Human Resources. Emergency housing is available for children, families, and others in need.

Even though it can be difficult to ask if you have family members or friends, consider reaching out to them for support and short-term housing. If they have an extra room or even a spare sofa, they may be able to provide you with a roof until you get on your feet.

If you are a university student, consider looking for live-in jobs such as a nanny or groundskeeper. They may not be glamorous, but many of these positions will be willing to work around your school schedule while providing you with a place to live as well as a source of income. It can be the perfect opportunity for the right student.

Resources:

State and Federal Resources

There may be emergency cash or housing assistance available through the Department of Health and Human Services. Find the one that covers your local area. They may also be able to help with school, transportation, work, food, and medical costs. Assistance for homeless individuals, and especially families, is usually expedited so you can expect to receive it sooner rather than later.

Housing assistance may come in the form of vouchers for hotels, help with getting into a shelter, money to cover a security deposit on an apartment, access to low-income housing lists, or other support. Many programs are income based and will only require a portion of your income in exchange for housing assistance. They may also be able to help with heating, cooling, renovations, and even furniture once you have moved in.

Resources:

Online Resources

If you cannot get to many places or don’t know where to start, the internet is a great resource. Search for shelters and homeless service centers in your local area, find your Department of Human Resources or make contact with your school to see how they can help. In many locations, you can also begin the process of applying for government benefits online. Do not be afraid to reach out for help or ask questions.

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Additional Support Services

The United States Department of Agriculture talks about how to apply for SNAP to help with your food costs. This federal program is provided at the state and local level.

Learn about what your rights are. The Iowa Department of Education discusses the homeless education grant program that helps students between the ages of 3 and 21.

The National Network for Youth offers information as well as ways to get involved in preventing youth homelessness.

Start With FAFSA is a great resource for learning about what student aid is available to you for each year of college. They answer all of the common questions that most new and potential students have about covering the costs of higher education.

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