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Friday, September 29, 2023

Student homelessness rates high in Florida, but not among UF students

Gainesville organizations are reaching out to help the growing Florida homeless student population.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, a record 69,956 homeless students attended Florida’s schools in the 2012-2013 academic school year.

St. Francis House, a shelter for those seeking housing, provides resources for homeless students.

St. Francis House kitchen manager Jason Robles said he has seen people in the shelter as young as 2 months old. He also sees people in their teenage years.

To pursue a higher education, Robles said it depends on the students’ mindset and demeanor.

“Each person individually is different. Every challenge is different,” he said. “It all depends on how they see life.”

Homeless students can take advantage of the shelter’s tutoring services, clothing vouchers and laundry facilities, according to St. Francis’ website.

UF offers resources for students in need of assistance.

“UF is currently creating a Food Pantry,” Jen Day Shaw wrote in an email. Groups across campus, including the Dean of Students Office, Student Government, Aramark and the College of Engineering, are contributing to the effort.

UF mechanical engineering sophomore Vishnu Sriram said mentoring services can be a helpful resource for homeless students.  

Sriram, 18, said he volunteers with the homeless and does not see homeless college students.

“I would imagine in Gainesville, there is a significant homeless population,” he said. “I don’t think a lot of them are displaced out of college.”

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U Matter, We Care caters to students dealing with crises. The organization  helps students find services such as UF Housing and Gator Dining.

Gator Dining production manager Dorian Baskerville said he personally tries to help homeless youth. Baskerville visited soup kitchens in his hometown.

He said helping out hits home because he was in danger of becoming homeless at one point. He suggested holding a community breakfast for homeless youth and students.

“It’s our duty as human beings to help out others.”

[A version of this story ran on page 3 on 9/29/2014]

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