College students face housing insecurity

Leonardo Rosas, Contributing Writer

Dallas College students who are evicted are more likely to drop out and not return than students who are not evicted, according to a 2022 study by Dallas-based nonprofit Child Poverty Action Lab, or CPAL, and the Labor Market Intelligence Center at Dallas College.

Housing insecurity is a problem for many community college students. According to a 2020 survey by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, 52% of students at two-year colleges reported some form of housing insecurity.

CPAL’s study found that market  rent prices are too steep for a typical college student’s income. Dallas College students would need to earn at least $60,000 annually to afford market-asking rent prices as of the second quarter of 2022. The median annual income for Dallas College students is $28,000.

Camille Gilchriest, director of GIS and data visualization at Dallas College, said Dallas College students who are evicted not only fail to complete their credentials but also lose money they have invested, as well as the potential to earn a higher wage, had they been able to continue their education.

Gilchriest said: “When you add that up for all of the students it affects, its millions and millions of dollars over the course of people’s careers because of one eviction filing they received while they were a student. So it has a really serious impact on students in the long term, and in the short term.” 

According to the CPAL study, Dallas College students who were evicted and did not return to school lost about $63 million in career earnings, while the sum of rent owed by these students was just $490,000. Only 4% of students who were evicted were able to complete their education.

Having stable housing is really a prerequisite for being able to be successful and complete your credentials.

— Ashley Flores, CPAL Senior Director

“We definitely have a lot of students who are either at risk of facing or have been through an eviction,” Stephanie Harris, associate dean of basic needs and community connections at Dallas College, said.

Dallas College provides assistance for students facing eviction. Dwayne Jones, senior care coordinator at Dallas College, is students’ go-to point of contact. His office is in Room A224.

Dallas College students are encouraged to seek assistance and be proactive. “Ideally, prevention is the easiest response,” Harris said. “If we know that a student isn’t going to be able to pay their rent, then they can reach out to our department for some assistance.”

Assistance for students comes in many forms — from financial literacy to connecting with the Career Services Department, emergency aid and cutting back food expenses each month by using the food pantries at Dallas College campuses, Harris said.

Dallas College students can also fill out a student care form with the Basic Needs and Community Connections department on the Dallas College website, and a coordinator with the department will reach out.

Ashley Flores, senior director at CPAL, said: “Having stable housing is really a prerequisite for being able to be successful and complete your credentials. So having any support that can get to students to keep them housed is really important.”