College is often touted as a way for lower-income communities to secure upward economic mobility. However, in a state with sky-high housing prices such as California, that dream may feel more like an impossibility. A recent article in The Guardian exposes the uptick of low-income California college students living in cars, shelters, and even on the streets:
“The rising cost of rent is a struggle for students in every part of California’s educational system, including at public universities with multibillion-dollar endowments: in a 2017 survey conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, about 10% of students, including 20% of post-doctoral students, said they had experienced homelessness.
But the crisis hits hardest at California’s community colleges, which enroll nearly 2 million students each year, making them the largest system of higher education in the country. Community colleges offer themselves as the pathway to higher-paying, more stable careers, particularly for students who come from families without many financial resources. But the latest statewide survey, published in 2019, found that 19% of California community college students had experienced homelessness in the past year, and 60% had experienced some kind of housing insecurity. Black students, indigenous students, and LGBTQ students, especially transgender students, were at higher risk of housing insecurity than their peers”
Unfortunately, as the article points out, economic challenges impact BIPOC communities the most. How can our communities welcome the next generation of doctors, artists, engineers, and lawyers when many of them can’t even afford a place to live? California needs to ensure housing for students is a right for all and not a select few.