Still Hungry and Homeless in College

New report calls on community colleges to continue supporting students who face food and housing insecurity.

A new report by Sara Goldrick-Rab and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, Still Hungry and Homeless in College, presents data from the third survey of its kind to measure basic needs insecurities among college students. The survey was conducted in 2017; it includes data from over 20,000 community college students. This new survey also includes a large amount of data from students at four-year universities, highlighting that basic needs insecurities is a shared challenge across postsecondary institutions. 

Among participating community college students, 42% reported experiencing food insecurity in the past 30 days. In the last year, 46% reported experiencing housing insecurity and 12% reported experiencing homelessness. In comparison, among participating students from four-year universities, 36% experienced food insecurity, 36% experienced housing insecurity, and 9% experienced homelessness. 

Furthermore, the report reveals that these are not discrete challenges. According to the authors, many students experience overlapping spells of food and housing insecurity and homelessness. The below chart illustrates that among participating community college students, 22% were both food and housing insecure during the last year; 8% experienced these challenges in tandem with homelessness. Among participating four-year university students, 16% were both food and housing insecure; 6% also experienced homelessness.

Intersections of Food Insecurity, Housing Insecurity, and Homelessness

The survey shows that students who experience the highest rates of basic needs insecurity include students who are Pell Grant recipients; female or gender non-binary; Black, Native American, and Hispanic; and parents. The report includes more details about the types of food and housing challenges student experience and strategies for how community colleges can support students to overcome these barriers to academic success. 

The full report can be downloaded here

This survey is a follow up to previous data collected by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab in partnership with ACCT. Prior reports are available on ACCT’s website here (2016 report) and here (2017 report).

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