Emergency Homelessness Prevention

Homelessness is at an all-time high in New York City.[1] As the costs of living and attending college soar, college students from around the country are increasingly at risk of becoming homeless despite working, receiving public assistance, and borrowing money.[2] Homelessness can derail a student’s education. It is a nearly impossible task to attend class and complete assignments while living in constant economic crisis, wondering where the next meal will come from and where to sleep at night. Although the City University of New York (CUNY) is one of the most affordable university systems in the country, CUNY students are not immune to the current homelessness crisis. Due to the social stigma and embarrassment attached to homelessness, it is difficult to pin down exactly how many students at CUNY are homeless, but one can look at the pages dedicated to homelessness on CUNY’s website[3] and to the recent reporting[4] on the issue to see that it is a problem. CUNY’s mission is to provide “a quality, accessible education regardless of background
or means,”[5] and to truly fulfill that mission, the problem of student homelessness needs a solution. As CUNY Law students, my colleagues and I are thinking about these systemic issues, but we also want to serve some of our clients' immediate needs. 

Your contribution to this Go Fund Me campaign will help create a Homelessness Prevention Fund for CUNY Undergraduate Students who receive public assistance and are facing a housing crisis. This past spring at CUNY School of Law, my classmates and I noticed that many of our CUNY undergraduate student clients are facing housing crises which neither New York City's Human Resources Administration nor CUNY sufficiently address.

The Homelessness Prevention Fund was inspired by a client who is one of the many CUNY undergraduate students who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This student is a zealous self-advocate who mentors younger students and aspires to become a social worker helping others navigate the challenges she faced and continues to face. She has persisted through college classes and internships, all while facing hunger and the threat of homelessness. She shared that it is hard to focus on studying when you are hungry. Despite being homeless for a month while maintaining a full undergraduate course load this past Spring, this student tirelessly advocated for herself to secure emergency state funding to pay for a CUNY dorm room for the next Fall and Spring semesters of her undergraduate education.

Unfortunately, this emergency funding does not cover Summer housing. This means that this student will be homeless again in one week simply because she cannot afford the $1,972 fee her school charges to remain in a dorm over the break. Donating to this campaign will ensure that this student has a home for the summer, which will keep her on track to graduate on time and to acquire stable housing in the future. A small donation would have an enormous impact in this person’s life because she is at a critical turning point between poverty and completing a Bachelor of Social Work degree. The lack of $1,972 should not cause homelessness and derail a person’s career.

After exhausting all avenues of publicly-available resources, I am starting this GoFundMe campaign to raise money for this student and other CUNY undergraduate students like her who receive public assistance and face housing crises. My goal is to raise $2100 to help this student and to begin setting aside money for future clients who may have housing emergencies. This campaign is part of a much larger and ongoing policy initiative to end poverty and homelessness amongst CUNY students. Please donate to this campaign and help keep one extraordinary student housed  while participating in the ongoing fight to end poverty and homelessness for all CUNY students.

[1] Recent reporting highlights that “between 2000 and 2014, the median New York City rent increased 19 percent while household income decreased by 6.3 percent. In that time period, the city’s homeless population more than doubled.” DW Gibson, New York Spends $1.2 Billion a Year on Homelessness and Yet the Problem is Only Getting Worse, N.Y. Mag (Mar. 22, 2017, 8:00 AM), http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/03/nyc-homelessness-crisis.html.
[2] Kirk Carapezza, The Number of Hungry and Homeless College Students Rises Along with College Costs, National Public Radio, Feb. 8, 2017 (Thirteen percent of surveyed community college students across the country are homeless).
[3] City University of New York, http://www.cuny.edu/about/administration/offices/sa/EmergencyShelterandServices.html.
[4] Elizabeth A. Harris, Behind the Problem of Student Homelessness, N.Y. Times (Apr. 7, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/education/edlife/preston-charles-roberson-homeless-college-student.html; Elizabeth A. Harris, A Journey From ‘Real World’ to Homeless Shelter – and College, N.Y. Times (Apr. 7, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/education/edlife/preston-charles-roberson-homeless-college-student.html.
[5] City University of New York, http://www2.cuny.edu/about/.Go Fund Me


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Organizer and beneficiary

Naomi Young 
Brooklyn, NY
Henry Ong 
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