Homeless students on campus struggle


Many students often complain about how hard it is being a broke college student. However, most of the students also talk about how exciting it is after a long day to climb into warm and cozy beds. For a significant amount of students at CU Denver, the former is a little too true, and the latter is out of reach. For those students who think homelessness is just a concept that happens outside of CU Denver, think again. Around 150 of our fellow students identify as homeless. With all-star organizations such as Students in Crisis, the Food Pantry, and the Loving Lynx, these organizations are doing their best to help provide for the students in need.

It’s hard to think about homelessness and higher education in the same sentence. However, why not? So much money is put toward higher education, and often times large sacrifices have to be made. Who’s to say it’s not a home or a stable place to live? According to a report from 2012, 40 percent of the national homeless population had jobs they had regularly been attending for the previous 30 days. Between minimum wage, the cost of higher education, and the rising housing market in Denver, it should come as no shock that students face hardships and homelessness on our campus. “Usually people might not show it the way they dress, but they may be experiencing homelessness when they leave. They might be sleeping in their car or on a friend’s couch,” Jordan Fernandes, head of the Food Pantry, said.

The Food Pantry, located in Tivoli 127, is a free resource “open to all students regardless of age, and household income.” Students need to come with a student ID and be actively taking classes to gain access to the Food Pantry. The resource isn’t just there for homeless students either. “Students who visit the food pantry vary from active full-time students to busy parents who attend night class,” Fernandes said.

CU Denver seems to be making a new trail with the Food Pantry. “A couple years ago, students from neighboring University of Denver reached out to us asking if they could get insight into creating a food pantry. It’s a hard thing to ask for help in general, and on a campus such as DU, there are barriers to programs like ours. When people think about DU, they think about how expensive and exclusive it is rather than how some students who are barely able to pay their tuition also have to worry about their next meal and their housing situation,” Fernandes said.

Currently, the Food Pantry is putting on the annual Gobbler Challenge. The challenge is the program’s fall food drive. Student organizations and university offices alike get to compete against each other to accrue the most amount of food that’s considered Thanksgiving-themed. “The items that we receive are used toward creating Thanksgiving baskets for CU Denver families during Thanksgiving,” Fernandes said. “Our purpose is to engage as many offices and student organizations as possible so that we can create a greater sense of community and give to others who not may be as fortunate.”

Learn more about the Food Pantry: Click Here
Photo courtesy: Alternative Breaks – CU Sentry

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1 thought on “Homeless students on campus struggle

  1. Thank you UCD for doing this. I was homeless and became a victim of human trafficking while attending UCD in 2002. My grades took a drastic turn as I struggled with stability. In 2003, with help from my mother, I was able to secure housing and gently begin recovering. The university docs helped me recover physically though I never disclosed human trafficking.

    People are vulnerable to exploitation when they are homeless especially LGBTQI and runaway youth, boys, men, women and young women. The possibilities are endless when you provide people any sort of support during these times that helps them stay healthy. Going to college probably saved my life.

    Having worked in anti-trafficking collaboratives since 2011, also providing support to commercial sex workers, we are lucky to have education as a resource for trafficking survivors and commercial sex workers. Thank you for feeding and nourishing people.

    Mrs. Billie McIntire, MA, LPC, LAC

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