Housing Insecurity: 12% and 9% of Students at Two-Year Community Colleges and Four-Year Colleges Experience Homelessness
College students responding to a survey by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab reveal a high degree of housing insecurity as well as food insecurity.
- Forty-six percent of students at two-year community colleges and 36% at four-year colleges experienced some degree of housing insecurity during the past year.
- Twelve percent and 9% of students at two-year community colleges and four-year colleges, respectively, experienced homelessness.
These results are included in a new report, Still Hungry and Homeless in College.
Forty-three thousand students from 31 community colleges and 35 four-year colleges voluntarily responded to questions about housing and food insecurity.
Housing insecurity was defined broadly to include:
- people who have difficulty paying rent,
- who are forced to move frequently, or
- who live in crowded conditions to pay the rent. Food insecurity was defined as limited access to nutritious food.
In the past year:
- 21% of community-college students and 13% of four-year college students had a rent increase that made their housing costs difficult to pay.
- Eighteen percent of community college students and 10% of four-year college students were unable to pay their rent in full.
- Eleven percent of community college students and 7% of four-year college students lived in overcrowded living arrangements.
- Seven percent of community college students and 6% of 4-year college students did not know where they would sleep for at least one night during the past year.
- Twenty-two percent of community college students and 16% of 4-year college students were both food and housing insecure.
Housing insecurity can lead to food insecurity:
- when housing costs increase,
- students have less money to spend on food or they may move to less expensive neighborhoods with fewer available food options.
- Female, non-heterosexual, black, Hispanic, and Native American students were more likely to experience food or housing insecurity than male, heterosexual, and white students.
The report recommends that students become advocates for changing policy. A national, student led organization, Young Invincibles, is examining how SNAP benefits are under-utilized by students. Students are showing leadership by testifying at the state and federal level and calling for changes that will address food insecurity.