One of San Diego’s ongoing issues continues to be the city’s lack of resources for homeless, and one particular group often overlooked- college students. San Diego Mesa College is taking its own steps into offering resources for its students.
In an article written earlier this year by Jamie Ballard of the San Diego City Beat, Ballard explained that one of the main reasons why homeless students are often overlooked is due to their lack of fitting into the stereotypical depictions of homeless people. While they may not be sleeping on sidewalks or asking for money on city streets, there is a population of students living in questionable and unsafe conditions including their cars, tents, or couch-surfing.
Mesa has a wide array of resources for students including one of its most recent additions, The Stand. With its grand opening just earlier this year, founders of The Stand showed great commitment to the project prior to it even being made official.
“The issue is cyclical: the students do need to get back on their feet. What we hope to do is to help them–let them know [which departments] are available for help on campus,” said Career Guidance and Transfer Supervisor, Claudia Estrada, in an exclusive interview with the Mesa Press back in Dec. 2016.
Estrada has since worked closely to Student Services Technician, Johanna Aleman of Student Equity to help The Stand grow into a well-known service available for Mesa students.
The Stand, created solely for Mesa College students, provides free access to food, toiletries, and professional clothing. Ran on a point system, a student registers and is given 16 points worth of food per week and eight points for clothing per semester.
Registering is free and easy and, does not require a student to provide any additional information about housing or income; it simply allows The Stand to keep track of how many students on campus are using the program.
“It’s here and it’s for everybody– no questions asked,” said Estrada.
In a recent visit to the Mesa Press newsroom, Lt. Diana Madero shared her experiences with homeless students.
“We see these students sleeping in their cars and we have to politely let them know they can’t stay there but we can provide resources for help for them,” said Madero.
Although vehicles may not be parked overnight on campus, Madero assured students that if help is needed, there is campus police available 24/7.
Aside from The Stand and campus police, other available sources for help are 2-1-1 San Diego, an organization whose goal is to help provide efficient assistance regarding health services, housing assistance, as well as military and veteran services to the San Diego community. While 2-1-1 San Diego is not a Mesa College organization, it is still available to students.
For Mesa students in need of assistance, visit The Stand, located on the second floor of the Student Services Center in room I4-204. For anyone outside of the Mesa community, visit www.211SanDiego.org.