Housing/Food Insecurity, Homelessness, and COVID-19: A Perfect Storm for Bay Area College Students?

Every year, college students across California worry about where they are going to sleep at night”especially in the San Francisco Bay Area where housing costs are sky high. Finding a place to live can be incredibly difficult. Homelessness, housing insecurity, and food insecurity are far too prevalent on our college campuses. In the best of times, such conditions have a negative effect on students grades, as well as their mental and physical health. But in the era of COVID-19, they are exacerbated. Although Bay Area campuses all have resources available to help, none are robust enough, especially now. The stakes are higher than ever for student populations. If students are to be successful, higher education administrations and policy makers must pay more attention to these challenges, and expand solutions in the Bay Area and throughout the state.

This paper examines the prevalence and repercussions of housing/food insecurity and homelessness among college students at public Bay Area four-year institutions and community colleges in the time of COVID-19. We did extensive research of existing materials at the institution, state, and national levels for context, and conducted student surveys and in-person student interviews at three sample Bay Area colleges”UC Berkeley, San Jose State University, and Evergreen Valley College.