‘Gimme Shelter’: California’s housing crisis forces college students into homelessness
At age 25, college student Emily Gee was homeless, living on a friend’s couch. It was August 2014, and she found herself in the middle of an eviction situation.
“I was in my apartment with her for a couple of nights while she took my friends to the movies,” she shared in an interview with Yahoo News. “I ended up spending Christmas with her the very next day because my friend had to work late. She ended up sleeping on my couch. I woke up about 10 hours into the night, and I was at a loss for what I should do.”
It was the start of a year-long period of financial homelessness for the student, who ultimately returned to campus to study part time.
She graduated in May — to her surprise, a first in her family. But soon after, she met a man who wanted to live with her — a man she soon learned was the father of her child.
The housing situation for young people in the Bay Area has grown so bad that it’s no longer the province of students at private colleges and universities, but has become a full-blown emergency for young people on the streets of public schools in cities like Oakland and Fremont.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, homelessness in California is on a “trend,” with a total of about 1 million people living on the streets, in cars or in other temporary housing. Housing prices have also ballooned, with a 30 percent increase in the cost of the median home over the past five years.
A recent report by the San Francisco-based Bay Area Leadership Council and the University of Oregon suggests that a significant portion of the homeless population in the Bay Area can trace their roots back to the Bay Area’s public schools — a fact that should serve as a warning, experts say.
The report, which was conducted in partnership with the University of Oregon “findings,” found that in just the first five years that these schools in the public school district have operated, homelessness had increased from 12,000 to 22,200