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Affordable housing problem taking its toll on students working hard at higher education

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CHICO, Calif. - Chico State has helped around 50 students who were experiencing homelessness this past year as affordable housing takes its toll on students.

But, a rep from the university said the number of students who are in need of housing help is rising daily.

First-generation college student Michelle Tapia works at the food pantry on campus where students can come to stock up on free food.

She said the pantry is a helpful service for students, including herself.

"To come to the school and try to pay for as much as possible and a little bit of guidance with your parents and any student struggling to pay for their college tuition or just their food in general and it is nice to know we have a resource here,” said Tapia.

Chico State is observing national homeless and hunger awareness week, offering many events through its own basic needs program.

The program was established in 2016, serving over 4,000 students through its food pantry services.

One of the events for today included students being able to grab samples of organic vegetables from the university farm.

Not only does the basic needs program provide free food, but it also connects students with housing help.

"The Chico Housing Action Team and True North and we work with them to house them in a variety of different locations around the Chico community,” said basic needs manager Leah Slem. “We are very grateful to have our community partners that have allowed this program to happen."

This year, through its rapid re-housing partnership grant, CHAT and True North provided an estimated $100,000 in rental assistance to house the 50 formerly homeless students.

"I worked on this campus for nine years through a variety of different programs and this is the first time that I can actually give them tangible things like food or housing,” said Slem.

The Chico State basic needs program has sheltered 160 homeless students since 2016.

There are a few more events happening this week and are listed below:

  • Tuesday
    • CalFresh enrollment - sign up at the food pantry
    • Movie and Popcorn at The Hub from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The film will be "Hungry to Learn"
  • Wednesday 
    • Pop up pantry and carnival games at the WREC's basketball court from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. 
  • Thursday
    • Hygiene drive dance party at the pantry. Starts at noon.
  • Friday
    • Pop up pantry at the WREC from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

A blanket and sock drive will be happening all week.

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