Editorial: Homeless students need attention now

Graphic by Anthony Lazon/The Et Cetera
Graphic by Anthony Lazon/The Et Cetera

Student homelessness is a major problem on American college campuses today, and with the resources available to the homeless community at large, as well as the resources available to students not related to housing, it’s astounding that we don’t have any methods to help relieve this specific problem.

The Dallas County Community College District is not exempt from this national trend. They know that and have discussed plans to offer relief to students with housing insecurities. We applaud them for recognizing the problem, which is not due to any fault by the district, but we also urge them to be quick with providing this relief.

Housing has been a point of discussion in the DCCCD master plan, and district leaders have mentioned the possibility of dedicating some of that housing to aiding students without stable sleeping arrangements. But students sleeping in their cars or moving couch to couch can’t wait the 10 years allotted for the master plan.

While the work done by Eastfield counselors and DCCCD navigators is admirable — they’re doing all they can with what they have — the district has the weight and power to create new resources.

We encourage the DCCCD Foundation to look into avenues to raise the money for a solution while the Board of Trustees focuses on quick but effective research on the needs of homeless students and the best ways to meet those needs.

It shouldn’t be missed that district leadership has been up front about the socioeconomic issues facing students today.

The North Texas Food Bank visits every campus every month to deliver fresh produce to students in need.

The My Community Services online resource, which the district introduced two years ago, is a good way for students to connect with organizations that can help them with their needs. It is a good placeholder, but want to see the DCCCD introduce internal initiatives to help meet these needs.

Shelters certainly offer students a safe place to sleep for the night, but many have rules and environments that are not conducive to academic success.

In the meantime, we need to be more public about the struggles faced by students and the resources there to help them.

The definition is much broader than many realize. Homeless students are rarely what we believe most would think of: they aren’t sleeping under bridges and panhandling at intersections.

With the ingenuity shown in the Dallas Promise, it’s not hard to believe they could create a similar innovation to offer these services with donations and revenue that does not come from taxes or tuition.

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