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Understanding and Meeting the Needs of Students Experiencing Homelessness

Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice Socioeconomic and Class Issues in Higher Education
Barbara Duffield

Homelessness among college students is a significant problem. Many young people experiencing homelessness recognize education as a primary pathway toward living wages and healthy, self-sufficient lives, yet they confront tremendous barriers to accessing and completing post-secondary education. This session will help student affairs professionals understand who is considered homeless under various federal laws; how to make the case for supporting homeless students on campus; where to get started or to build upon existing efforts; and legislative efforts to support students experiencing homelessness in higher education.

Student homelessness is a large and growing problem in both K-12 and higher education. At the post-secondary level, a 2016 study found that 8.7% of the California State University student population (approximately 41,170 students) experience homelessness at any given time. A national study found that at least 14% of community college students experience homelessness. These students face incredible barriers to accessing and completing post-secondary education, including lack of adult support, housing, health care, and food, as well as histories of trauma, abuse, and neglect.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of participating in this online learning community briefing, participants will be able to:

  • understand the education and the housing definitions of homelessness;
  • make the case for specific campus outreach and supports for homeless students;
  • identify and locate key partners on and off campus to meet the needs of homeless students; 
  • take first steps, or build on existing efforts, to improve services and supports for homeless students; and
  • understand specific federal and state legislative efforts to remove barriers and create opportunities for students experiencing homelessness.
Course Length
Course Type
On Demand

Register Online