Ask NCFY: How Can I Help Homeless College Students Find Housing During Academic Breaks?

A young woman sits in a dormitory.

NCFY recently received this question* via a private Facebook message. Here, we share an expanded version of our response.

Q: I am starting a program at my college that will provide housing during breaks for students who rely solely on residence halls as their place of residence. I myself experienced homelessness during high school and into college, so I know how meaningful a program like that can be. Are there any resources, tips, or guidance that you can provide me?

A: First, thank you for your commitment to helping college students in need of housing during academic breaks! Bill Bentley, the associate commissioner of the Family and Youth Services Bureau, recently wrote a blog post on this topic because it’s such an important issue. With spring break approaching, some students will again find themselves without a place to stay.

Here at the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, we offer an online video series for people looking to build their own youth program. Each section walks viewers through a specific step like conceiving your mission and vision statement or planning your programs. We also keep a running list of funding opportunities that help programs get off the ground and remain financially sustainable.

Have you heard of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, also called NAEHCY for short? NAEHCY provides resources about the educational rights of homeless students and also offers individual assistance by phone and text. In 2015, the organization partnered with the National Network for Youth, Covenant House, and the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare around finding homes for homeless and foster youth during school breaks.

Here are five tips those organizations shared as part of that campaign.

  1. Allow youth to stay in their residence hall.
  2. Open international student housing for homeless and foster youth.
  3. Use Student Support Service dollars authorized by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 for housing during breaks.
  4. Create a website where youth can confidentially disclose their status and what services they need.
  5. Designate a single point of contact, or SPOC, to help youth locate on- and off-campus resources.

Read the Home for the Holidays 2015 flyer to see how other campus communities are implementing these suggestions and to access related resources. The organizers also collected feedback on emerging partnerships that will help more students find short-term housing.

Want to ask us a question? E-mail us or reach out by live chat using the link at the top of our homepage.

*The question has been edited for clarity and to preserve the asker’s anonymity.

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