University programs help students facing housing crises

Row of houses in San Francisco

Row of houses in San Francisco

PATHS provides temporary crisis housing, homelessness intervention and more

“Do I pay rent or my tuition?” Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for college students who are housing insecure to ask themselves this tough question. With high costs of living, reductions in federal financial aid and an ailing economy, many students nationwide are struggling to meet their basic needs while earning a degree. That’s why the California State University (CSU) responded with its Basic Needs Initiatives, which bolster housing stabilization programs for students at campuses across the state — including San Francisco State University.

Now San Francisco State is taking its commitment one step further by creating Providing Assistance to Housing Solutions (PATHS), a collection of programs supporting students experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of becoming unhoused.

“The housing crisis is complex, with some of the factors beyond the reach of any university,” SF State Assistant Director for Basic Needs Initiatives Jewlee Gardner said. “However, there are many things we can do so that students have safe and adequate housing. That’s where PATHS comes in.”

Gardner helps oversee PATHS, a collaboration between Health Promotion & Wellness and the Dean of Students. Through this partnership, the University provides housing navigation support, temporary crisis housing and homelessness intervention to eligible students. Although PATHS includes resources that have been around for awhile, it also includes newer services launched in November.

Organizing offerings under a single umbrella term, PATHS, makes it easier and quicker to steer students who are housing insecure to resources they need, Gardner said. “Imagine you’re an instructor and a student tells you they’re housing insecure,” she said. “We want you to know that PATHS exists and not second guess where to direct the student.”

People can refer students to PATHS by completing this online form. Students may also refer themselves using this form. A staff member will assess each referral to determine eligibility.

Gardner cautions that PATHS, like housing support services at other universities, will help individuals but can’t solve broad societal issues. “Our programs are not going to eliminate the housing crisis,” she said. “Addressing homelessness takes a village. It’s about finding your part in the overall solution.” She also says that PATHS is reserved for students who are in critical need of housing solutions. “PATHS is not for students who have stable housing and just need general off-campus housing assistance,” she added.

PATHS programs will provide:

Housing Navigation Support

PATHS can help students who are at-risk of losing their housing explore solutions. The goal is to mediate the situation so students can stay in their current housing. If that’s not possible, PATHS can help identify new options.

“It’s about taking preventative measures so that the student doesn’t reach the point of homelessness,” Gardner said. Those measures may include providing resources on tenant rights or offering guidance on roommate conflict. In some cases, students may be eligible for emergency financial assistance to cover rent or utilities during an unexpected crisis.

Rapid Rehousing

SF State partnered with San Francisco youth organizations LYRIC and 3rd Street Youth Center and Clinic to provide a type of intervention called college-focused rapid rehousing. Rapid rehousing helps students who are experiencing homelessness secure housing regardless of their initial ability to pay rent. Students can receive guidance on finding housing, financial assistance to pay for housing costs, case management and more.

The program was funded through passage of AB 74 Rapid Re-Housing, a state bill that provided CSU campuses with financial support to develop rapid rehousing solutions. Through an application process, SF State was one of seven CSU campuses to receive funding.

Gator Crisis Housing (GCH)

GCH provides eligible students experiencing a temporary and unexpected housing emergency with a short-term stay on campus. The program is not equipped to resolve housing insecurity or homelessness that will take longer than 21 days to resolve. Students who need support beyond 21 days may be a better fit for the Rapid Rehousing program, Gardner said.

To adhere to COVID-19 health guidelines, GCH is currently limited to housing up to four students at a time.

Email if you have questions about eligibility requirements.