Stephen Ellison

Thousands of SJSU Students Struggling With Homelessness

As students at San Jose State gear up for final exams, an estimated 4,300 of them are focused on an even more pressing need: A place to sleep.

A recent study found 13.2 percent of SJSU students reported experiencing homelessness during the past year, one of the highest rates among the 23 California State University campuses.

The Bay Area's skyrocketing housing costs have left some students scrambling to find an affordable place to sleep and struggling to succeed.

"I’ve seen a lot of students sleep in their cars," said Juan Marrufo of the SJSU Student Homeless Alliance. "I also have friends who sleep in the library."

Sociology professor Scott Myers-Lipton said students who are not in stable housing tend to miss classes, and when they don't get enough to eat, their grades suffer.

The university is addressing the problem with a one-stop resource for assistance called San Jose Cares.

"We have a series of people who are working to help students get the assistance they need," said Patrick Day, SJSU vice president of student affairs.

Next month, San Jose State plans to open a new food pantry in the student union, offering free food for students who need it.

But the student homeless alliance says they need much more. It is asking the university to offer at least 10 spots in the Seventh Street garage for homeless students to park overnight. The request was made back in April.

"They have done nothing," Marrufo said.

"We are looking at a parking plan," Day said. "It's under examination right now. But, absolutely, what the students have requested will be considered."

The alliance also is asking the university to make 12 dorm beds available for homeless students to stay for at least 60 days. Currently, the university has just two rooms available.

Students plan to make their demands again when they camp overnight at the student union Thursday night.

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