TESTIMONIAL: Couch surfing my way through winter break

The CSU estimates that 1 in 10 students have been homeless at some point within the past 12 months. On the State Hornet staff, that number is closer to 15 percent. These are some of our stories.

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”5″]A[/su_dropcap]fter my first semester of living in Sacramento State student housing, paying $34 dollars a night to stay there over winter break without access to The Dining Commons or The Market was not an option.

I had just paid $1,946 out of my pocket toward housing when cold winter break came. I was so upset that I had to spend the majority of my break away from my family so I could work and start saving up for my spring housing payment. Then I found out about the $34 per night housing fee.

My mind started racing; I had no way of paying that much, and no place to live for four weeks. I didn’t have the gas money to commute. I hardly had enough to buy food while I was working.

A total of $952 was not in my budget for living in the dorms for the winter. I figured that I’d paid my part when I paid my housing payment, but that apparently wasn’t enough.

When I realized all the pleading in the world couldn’t get me out of this one, I started searching. I thought of every possible option I had: renting a room or motel, couch hopping, even living in my car.

The dorm experience is supposed to give students security and assurance. I chose this so that I wouldn’t have to worry about apartment rent and utilities.

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Being forced into a borderline homeless situation like this left me feeling powerless. This is not how I expected to feel during my first year of college.

The stress of struggling to find a place followed me into finals week. It was overwhelming enough to have three finals to study for and one project to complete. The housing stress outdid the stress of my finals. It wasn’t until two days before I had to move out that my mind was at ease.

My best friend was in the same position and had secured us a spot on the floor of her friend’s apartment. The arrangement was temporary; we could only stay for a week. I only had to pay $30 for that whole week as opposed to $238 in the dorms for the same time period.

I picked up a cheap air mattress and used that during the break as I continued to go from place to place. Living in someone’s personal space is an uncomfortable feeling, especially when you hardly know that person. I constantly felt like I was invading their home and being a burden.

My coworker allowed me to stay at her place free of charge for the last three weeks. Again that bitter feeling of overstepping my boundaries crept up. I felt bad that I couldn’t afford to pay her anything when I knew she wasn’t well off either.

During those weeks I ate ramen that I purchased with my leftover points from the school market along with the one meal I received at work.

All that being said, I got extremely lucky. I can’t imagine how it was or can be for the students who were not as fortunate.