SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A new push is underway to get help for homeless students at San Jose State, as the university's Student Homeless Alliance is calling attention to what it considers a growing problem.
19-year-old Sophomore Bahati Burgess is seeking shelter across campus at Grace Baptist Church. He shares what appears to be an old classroom with four other students in the same boat, unable to afford a place to live while still trying to keep up with their studies.
“It’s easier, it's a lot easier,” said Burgess. “I’m right across the street from school. I don't have to worry where I’m going to sleep.”
The Oakland native knows it's not ideal but he considers it a Godsend after spending two months couch surfing and sleeping at the university's Martin Luther King Library.
“It’s not very comfortable,” said Burgess. “There's not like there's beds in there. You just find good place in there and take a nap until the morning. I was in a really dark place at the time because honestly I was failing my classes. I couldn't study correctly.”
Bahati is one face in a growing issue. According to San Jose State’s Student Homeless Alliance, numbers they received from the California State University Chancellor’s Office indicate 4,300 students have experienced homelessness in the past year.
Scott Myers-Lipton is the faculty advisor for the Student Homeless Alliance.
“I can't do my job as a professor if my students don't have the basics,” said Myers-Lipton. “No matter what I do, or what I teach, they can't perform at their highest levels and graduate.”
He said the cost of housing on and off campus is too high for students.
“A single studio apartment at San Jose State for a month is $1,700,” said Myers-Lipton. “If they share, it's $1,100 or $1,200.”
The Student Homeless Alliance is demanding from the university at least 10 safe parking spaces at the Seventh Street Parking Garage and a dozen beds in dorms for homeless students to stay for 60 days.
“I mean anything can help at this point,” said Burgess. “It’s really a grim situation for a lot of people.”
KTVU reached out to San Jose State, but didn’t hear back. The Student Homeless Alliance said they plan to bring up their concerns when they camp overnight at the student union on Thursday.