The article by Eleanor Bader presents emotional anecdotal evidence of people from all walks of life and situations experiencing homelessness while struggling to obtain an education. To many, education stands as the only opportunity for a better life and stability. The number of homeless students is increasing due to rising costs of living and the lack of programs aimed at assisting this vulnerable population.
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The issue of homelessness for students is rare but becoming a more visible issue. As housing is a basic need in the modern world, providing safety, hygiene, and a workspace; it is necessary for a successful education. However, anecdotal evidence, mainly from educational institutions of poor urban communities, suggests that more people are afflicted. People such as single parents, migrants, and those facing abuse are just some of the examples that education staff encounters each year. These students are more likely to suffer academically. As access to education continues to expand, there are more likely instances of students facing homelessness.
Inflation and economic instability are causing the rise of costs around the United States for basic housing needs, food products, and services (such as transportation) which are essential for survival. The average costs of renting housing in urban centers exceed the federal minimum wage threefold, which is unrealistic for students to maintain part-time jobs while studying. There is an inherent myth that students should be able to support themselves while in college. That may have been true decades ago, but rising costs are putting tremendous pressure on family budgets, even those with a stable income. This stereotypical perspective creates a problem as well by shaming homeless students to hide their status or go to extreme means to upkeep a particular image.
College demographics have changed significantly with broader access to higher education, serving people from various communities, and social statuses. “Nontraditional students–the older, returning ones as well as those from low-income or other disenfranchised communities–often receive fewer tangible support services than they would like” (Bader). Smaller and community level colleges do not have the endowment or federal support that larger institutions get. Therefore, there is often a lack of funding to provide aid. At any level of education, it becomes unprofitable for the administration to implement systemic assistance programs. Meanwhile, these students often lack the guidance or qualifications to receive government financial aid which is infamously captious. This puts many people in difficult financial situations and faced with homelessness.
The counter-argument to an increasing number of homeless students states that it is an inaccurate presumption based on few cases of anecdotal evidence. While these instances are tragic, they are rare since it is unlikely that a person in a desperate financial situation would be pursuing an education in the first place; more likely to focus on working. Also, there are no gathered or proven statistical measures to show that there is, in fact, such an increase. It can also be argued that working part-time can be enough to pay for renting some type of shelter in most places, even if it means a longer commute time. Therefore, the instances of homelessness are extreme and rare in occurrence in comparison to other education-related issues nationwide.
The number of homeless students is increasing as supported by anecdotal evidence and reasoning, analyzing the socio-economic conditions that the country is experiencing in forms of rising housing costs and lack of funding for support programs. While counter-arguments can be made to cite a lack of concrete data, it does not imply that the issue should be ignored as many administrations of educational institutions choose to do. By raising awareness and implementing targeted assistance programs, the homeless issue can be mediated to some extent.
Bader, Eleanor. “Homeless on Campus.” The Progressive. 2004, Web.