It’s Monday morning and you have class at 9 a.m. You get out of bed and hop in the shower, get dressed, do your hair in the bathroom and brush your teeth. You get ready in the comfort of your home and go to school, hopefully grabbing breakfast along the way.
Whether you live on or off campus, you’re able to get to school without having to think twice about where you got ready, if you got to shower or where you woke up. For homeless students, these are luxuries that come with having a stable living situation. These students are your friends you see in class every day as a someone with a stable living situation, and there are ways to help your peers and colleagues even when you feel you don’t have too much to offer.
President of the Humboldt State University Homeless Student Advocate Alliance, Chant’e Catt, gave some bigger picture suggestions on how students can help their fellow students.
1. Get political
One of the ways a student can help is by being involved with and voting for local legislature that promotes help for homelessness.
To do this, students should update their voter registration address so they are eligible to vote in Humboldt County. To do this, you can register online at the Department of Motor Vehicles website or in person at the DMV as well.
Catt said after changing voter addresses, students should “vote on local policies that restrain housing development and other student issues so we can create legacy for students to come.”
Attending city council meetings and sharing opinions at these meetings is another way to influence change. Arcata city council meetings happen several times a month. You can find the next one at the city of Arcata’s website.
2. Get involved on campus
Homeless students are encouraged, at their own discretion, to participate in any research studies on campus by sharing their stories and experiences. Catt said by participating, suggestions based off these stories can be made to the CSU system to help others in the future.
For example, Oh SNAP! is a student food program run by students that provides help for food insecure students. Visit their website at http://hsuohsnap.org to discover more of their resources and find out how you can help.
Students can also spend two hours a week participating in clubs and programs like the HSAA, the Youth Educational Services or becoming a part of the Associated Students executive board to promote change and support for homeless students. Y.E.S. also facilitates a homelessness network that offers resources to homeless families in Humboldt.
3. Get involved in the community
Looking for local shelters and finding a way to volunteer time and support to these shelters could potentially give back to students utilizing them. You can find a list of shelters in the area at https://www.shelterlistings.org and by searching for Humboldt County.
Catt suggested students get involved in the Raven Project Street Outreach Program. The Raven Project is put on by the Redwood Community Action Agency which owns rentals as housing options, offers connection to crisis assistance, home repair assistance, some transportation options and other resources for homeless families.
The Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives said they work with the community on both long and short term goals to help find housing for the homeless in the area. They accept multiple forms of help and donations.
Even if these local options don’t seem student oriented, remember that most students are above the age of 18 and are technically adults. This means local homeless adult resources might be their only option.
4. Check in with each other
One of the best ways a student can support other students who might be homeless is to ask them how they are doing. Checking in with each other could make a world of a difference.
Catt said students should ask each other how they are and share resources and information more often.
“Be more open to sharing just a few hours helping each other,” Catt said. “Absolutely every study I find on resiliency says mentors, council, friends are the key to success. Networking creates a safety net in the community.”
In some cases, the ability to admit you need help might be the hardest thing to do. By looking out for your fellow students, you might discover someone who needs your help.