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Community to help house homeless college students

NC State University

A study at N.C. State University says that 15% of their students have experienced homelessness since the pandemic. Starting in the fall, N.C. State students can apply for temporary housing with a program called HOST. It's a non-profit organization that stands for Housing Options for Students Today.

“We think this is a partial solution,” said Mary Haskett. She is the co-chair of HOST and Professor of Psychology at N.C. State. “The program is kind of a unique solution to college-student homelessness. As far as we know, this is the only host home program specifically for college students,” Haskett said.

The program works by using existing homes throughout the community. Individuals who have a spare bedroom can open their home for a short period of time, while students work with a case manager. The case managers assist the students with resources for stable housing. Students and host participants will undergo background checks to ensure safety.

HOST is going to accommodate a wide variety of student needs, Haskett said.

“Some students may just need a host home during a time where the dorms are closed, and they have nowhere else to go. Other students may need a full semester,” said Haskett.

The program is free to students and is using the Department of Education definition of homelessness for students to qualify.

“That includes individuals that are sleeping in their cars, sleeping in the libraries, sleeping on the streets and tents. It also includes students who are living doubled up because they have no alternative living,” Haskett said.

The causes of homelessness for students are multifaceted, Haskett said.

“Tuition and fees have increased. The cost of living is skyrocketing. In addition, the pandemic has had an impact on students in terms of their income, and the expenses that they're faced with,” she said.

HOST is partnering with Passage Home, an organization for Wake County that serves families living in poverty. The organization received expansion funding from the county that will be used to fund case manager positions for Host. It is also receiving donations from private individuals.

Haskett said they are actively recruiting individuals for HOST. On Monday June 13, there will be an information session for anyone who wants to learn more.

People can register by emailing libbystephens@hostnc.org.

“We are expecting to serve up to 25 people at any given time when the program starts,” said Haskett.

Clarification: This story has been changed to clarify the relationship between N.C. State and the HOST program.

Copyright 2022 North Carolina Public Radio. To see more, visit North Carolina Public Radio.

Sharryse Piggott