Sac State student speaks out about experience with homelessness
Housing insecurity among students is on the rise since start of semester, university officials say
October 23, 2019
“I’m overwhelmed,” Sacramento State criminal justice major Jayda Preyer said inside her two-bedroom apartment located 10 minutes from campus.
When Preyer moved to Sacramento in January, she was unable to find affordable housing. She found herself commuting from her hometown in East Oakland before moving into emergency housing at Sac State.
Preyer transferred to Sac State with the hope that Sacramento would provide an affordable environment to finish her degree in.
Instead, she found herself waitlisted for on-campus housing and dismayed to find an inflated housing market with average rents higher than she could afford while going to school full-time, even with financial aid.
According to a 2018 Sac State press release, as many as 1 in 10 Sac State students face homelessness in a city with notoriously high rents. A report issued by the California State University system the same year found that 11 percent of students in the 23-campus system are either homeless or have experienced some form of homelessness during their college careers.
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“Financial aid only gives you a certain amount,” Preyer said. “So the rest, you’re gonna have to figure out on your own.”
Preyer said it is reasonable to expect a full-time student on financial aid to work 16 to 20 hours per week and pay between $500 and $600 dollars a month in rent.
In her housing search this semester, Preyer said she was finding single bedroom apartments asking between $1,300 and $1,500 per month in rent.
Preyer started classes at Sac State having to commute from Oakland while staying with her grandmother, or in Oakley, where her sister lives. To make matters worse, Preyer said she had a hard time finding employment in Sacramento.
“It’s even harder to get a job, because nobody wants anybody who is commuting,” Preyer said. “They don’t want to hire you if you don’t have stable housing, and then when you go back home nobody wants to hire you because you say you go to Sac State.”
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Preyer found the help she needed through the Crisis Assistance and Resources Education Support program on-campus.
The CARES program is part of Sac State’s Division of Student Affairs and “provides support to students who are in crisis or experiencing unique challenges to their education,” according to their webpage.
Emergency housing at Sac State has two beds for men and two beds for women, and a 30-day occupation limit.
Preyer and her roommate had only two days left in emergency housing when they finally signed a lease.
“I really don’t know where I’d be at all (without CARES),” Preyer said.
Jessica Thomas, the on-campus case manager for CARES, takes a hands-on approach with students searching for food options, housing and employment opportunities.
Thomas said that housing insecurity increased at the beginning of this semester.
“We saw a lot of students who were housing insecure, being waitlisted at the residence halls and not knowing where to go or how to find a place to go,” Thomas said. “Especially (those that) were coming from out-of-state or far away from campus.”
She recommended that students who don’t have secure housing set up an appointment with her at the CARES office located on the first floor of the University Union in room 1260.
CARES coordinates with organizations that deal with housing insecurity like Sacramento Self Help Housing and Next Move homeless services. They also help students navigate Craigslist and the Herky Roommate Finder, Sac State’s online housing resource.
“We also get community members that call in to offer rooms for students to rent or stay in for free until they can find a place,” said Thomas.
In addition to housing issues, the CARES office can help with CalFresh applications and walk students over to the ASI Food Pantry.
Thomas said she isn’t sure exactly what should be done about the problem, but she said she thinks creating more student housing and low-income affordable housing, especially around Sac State, would be a good start.
“Most people see Sacramento as a place where you can live affordably, but that’s not really the case anymore,” Thomas said. “Something needs to be done. We need to come up with something.
Preyer said that she is currently working with Thomas and CARES to compile a list of affordable apartments near Sac State.
“I’m trying to create something to ease up the 30-day housing so we can get people in (homes) and they won’t need the 30 days,” Preyer said. “If we can compile this list, and create a list that people can just go and actually look (at), that will get people out faster and will get more people helped.”
For now, Preyer said she feels accomplished.
“It’s a very good feeling. I still have a lot of work to do, but this is part of the reason I say you gotta keep going,” Preyer said. “Just stick up and stick around, and you’ll find someone that will be able to help you. That’s exactly what happened with us.”