The Campus Awareness, Resource and Empowerment Center opened a new emergency housing option on Aug. 9 dedicated to students at risk of homelessness on the Marietta campus.
The American Opportunity Foundation, a nonprofit that provides affordable housing to moderate and low-income individuals, donated $45,000 to fund two rooms in the Hornet Village residence suites. The AOP also provided two $3,000 scholarships for students in need.
Students stay temporarily in two-week cycles while CARE helps them locate permanent housing. The opening comes one year after KSU’s first emergency housing option opened on the Kennesaw campus.
The CARE Center is a university program that aids students who are at risk of becoming homeless, food insecure or part of the foster care system with the goal of achieving long-term solutions. Funded entirely through donations, CARE provides scholarships, food, job opportunities, temporary housing and advising to nearly 300 KSU students each year.
Both the Marietta campus and the Kennesaw campus now offer emergency housing options, but the new housing is only the start of a unified effort to fight homelessness, according to Marcy Stidum, director of the CARE Center. Moving forward, CARE will be looking to upgrade their food pantry into a store that students can choose items from.
“Poverty takes away choice,” Stidum said. “I want to return that to our students.”
Stidum said that CARE is also looking for a dedicated space in order to fight the “variety of needs that lead to homelessness.”
KSU is the first university in the country to have on-campus apartments dedicated to housing homeless students.
“We have innovative leaders willing to identify the problem and come up with a solution,” said Director of Development Colin Byrne.
Former CARE client La’Ron Henry started at KSU in the fall 2016 semester and was sleeping in his Jeep from Monday to Friday while attending class. In October, Henry got in touch with CARE services, and they helped him find housing.
“The freshman dorms have a common area, but no fridge, no stove — CARE got me a mini fridge,” Henry said. “CARE has become one of my families.”
CARE was founded in 2011 with the goal of helping students find long-term solutions to the problems associated with homelessness — not just temporary fixes. Since 2011, CARE has offered support to over 500 students, with 290 of those students helped in the past year alone. In the previous year, 25 homeless students lived on-campus in the Kennesaw apartment or in hotels paid by CARE until long-term housing could be found. Nearly 200 students obtained food from pantries on both campuses.
CARE relies heavily on student involvement and volunteering in order to run pantries, set up events and aid students as best as possible. More information is available at care.kennesaw.edu.