How campuses ignited initiatives to assist homeless students in need

Trio is a federal outreach and student support services program that provides resources.
Photo submitted by Naja Hardmon.

Student homelessness is a real factor for some students on their journey to a degree. Some universities in Tallahassee have recognized the struggle. Campuses have enacted initiatives and a variety of programs to assist students in need.

Levia Jackson is the assistant director of student support services at Florida A&M University's branch of TRIO, a federal outreach, and student support program.

“We have a different background of students coming from out of state, homeless shelters, and single parent homes,” said Jackson. “And they need support when they get here.”

Along with TRIO, a multitude of services have an established presence on FAMU’s campus like the Center for Disability Access and Resources (CeDAR), Office of Counseling Services, and the Office of Student Affairs constantly producing donation drives and programs to assist their students.

“They need that financial aid workshop or time management workshop that we offer, they need that extra assistance and someone to help them, guide them, and lead them on campus,” continued Jackson. “Here within TRIO, we bring them in and we can have that personal one-on-one.”

Joshlyn Thomas is the Coordinator of Student Affairs who spoke on their efforts to support these students.

“We try to put ourselves out there to see what it is that students need and responding to their demands,” stated Thomas.

The response to students in need at FAMU has been relatively positive.

With the implementation of a weekly food-pantry, students can receive groceries and hygiene products free of cost, and many of the services offer an open-door policy.

The support for students in need reaches past FAMU’s campus and is active on the land of Tallahassee Community College as well.

Even without housing, TCC offers a variety of services to its students. With the inclusion a food pantry as well.

Mia Zeigler, Coordinator for Fostering Achievement and Fellowship, a program that assists students out of Foster Care, and the Homeless Student Liaison at Tallahassee Community College.

“Every student that’s on campus does not fit the box,” explained Ziegler. “Every student did not come from a two-parent household. Every student does not have the resources that are readily available to those that fit in that box.”

TCC also assists students who seek shelter by referring to Tallahassee homeless organizations and shelters like Capital City Youth Services for underage students and the Kearney Center for emergency homelessness.

“Every student is different,” continued Zeigler. “We just have to make sure that all those support services are available because you don’t know what that student is going through.”

Government aid is also available to students in need in a nationwide attempt to reduce the rates of student homelessness.

In the state of Florida, homeless students can request tuition waivers thanks to Statue 1009.25 and the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Act. It ensures that homeless students receive the same free services that public education has to offer.

With these efforts given by Tallahassee universities, student homelessness will no longer be an unnoticed issue.