Combatting Student Homelessness to Ensure Detroit’s Success
There is a severely under-represented population here in the city of Detroit. They are people who are working tirelessly to make something of their lives, yet life hasn’t dealt them the cards they need to succeed. Hidden in plain sight is a growing number of Wayne State University students experiencing the tragedy of homelessness, precarious housing, and financial instability.
It is a common misconception that if someone has the means to go to college, they have the means to obtain basic necessities. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. There are Wayne State students who have to choose between paying tuition bills and paying for their basic needs like food and a living space. Wayne State University’s HIGH Program recognizes these students. These students have dreams of graduating, and they simply need assistance in making those dreams a reality. The HIGH Program provides the necessary support so they don’t have to make the choice.
The HIGH Program has been transforming students’ lives for over three years. Through giving a helping hand, financial assistance, and consistent housing, HIGH can help make the difference between earning a college degree and dropping out. Detroit needs its students more than ever to keep the city moving in the right direction.
This past fall, WSU’s First Lady Mrs. Jacqueline Wilson and the HIGH team worked diligently to spread the word about the program and its benefits for students. At the start of the fall semester in August, HIGH Program members spoke about the program at WSU’s annual Baroudeur cycling event and hosted an information table at FestiFall.
In early October, Mrs. Wilson hosted a presentation in Wayne State’s Student Center called “Supporting Student Success: Wayne State University’s ‘Helping Individuals Go Higher’ (HIGH) Program” as part of the Humanities Center Brown Bag Colloquium Series. In mid-October, the HIGH Program received a generous $30,000 donation from The Jamie and Denise Jacob Family Foundation to help HIGH continue to provide support to struggling Wayne State students. HIGH Program members also hosted a table at WSU’s Department of Communication’s Journalism Day Internship Fair where they successfully recruited volunteers and interns for the winter term.
In mid-November, Mrs. Wilson and the HIGH Program members volunteered at the Cass Community Social Services kitchen and hosted an information table in the WSU Student Center in order to help spread awareness about the issues of hunger and homelessness in honor of National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week; and for Thanksgiving, President Wilson and Mrs. Wilson hosted students at their home to share in the holiday’s festivities.
The HIGH Program’s ongoing efforts include the continuous determination to spread the word about the program through meeting with student organizations, faculty, and by hosting informational events. HIGH is also currently working with the McGregor Fund team to create a food pantry and Student Office of Advocacy and Resources (SOAR).