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University provides support for homeless residents

To some, a homeless person is not someone an individual can relate to easily. But on a college campus and in a college town, those who have faced or are facing homelessness are more relatable than some might think.

For the two years that she had her one bedroom apartment, sophomore Heather Jividen took in individuals who were homeless. Ranging in the ages between 19 and 32, these individuals were new to the Bowling Green area, had or might have lost their jobs. Jividen didn’t expect anyone to pay to live, but they were expected to find jobs and get on their feet.

But, quickly, the tables were turned. When Jividen switched jobs and was working at a minimum wage job, rent and bills started to pile up. While she was still able to make rent and pay her bills, then Jividen’s dad passed away and she lost some support from him.

While Jividen managed on her own, she was forced to move out of her apartment because the lease was up and, to Jividen’s knowledge, they had not shown her apartment to anyone and she couldn’t renew the lease and going home to her family was not an option.

Jividen went from helping the homeless to being someone

in need.

Cyndie Roberts, the Assistant Director for Retention Services comes into contact with students who show academic signs of underlying issues that faculty

members notice.

“Sometimes, things present as academic difficulties and that’s really how I tend to get involved,” Roberts said. “Although, I tend to have some referrals from faculty who might have a conversation with a student, in which the student divulges something about not having a home and then that faculty member will say to them, ‘Is it alright? I think I know someone who can help you. Is it alright if I give someone a call?’”

Roberts picks apart the pieces of the puzzle, where she can potentially help a student about one aspect of their story. Roberts also refers a student to someone else who might be able to help the student get into contact with different places where they can receive help.

“Oftentimes, it’s not just one thing that is an issue. If I start peeling away the layers of the onion and I start asking questions and listening to what I’m being told, I can find out an awful lot about a student just by that extra little bit of time and that extra question,” Roberts said.

Roberts said sharing information about students who are in a difficult situation is getting better.

“We’re getting much better at sharing information throughout the campus, among different professionals. Meaning, if students who are in difficulty come to us in a variety of different ways. They may talk to an individual or they may display behavior, which causes concern to an adviser or an instructor, a RA or a hall director,” Roberts said.

Another way for a student to get the help they potentially need is through the Counseling Center.

Patricia Helyer, a student assistance advocacy specialist with the Counseling Center is the Ohio Reach Liaison for the University.

Ohio Reach is a statewide organization that aids students who have been a part of the foster care system and helps get them into post-secondary education.

Helyer’s role at the University is to look after students who have come through the foster care system, along with students who find themselves needing help. She also acts as a social worker that is available to any enrolled University students.

One of the issues Helyer has run into while working with at risk students is that they do not know that the residence halls close down during certain breaks.

“Students don’t know that they have to make arrangements to stay on campus. It’s not part of their bill already. They have to pay an additional amount,” Helyer said. “You may have not accepted enough financial aid to do that when you accepted your financial aid package.”

Another issue Helyer has run into while working with students that have encountered homelessness or potential homelessness is that there is some kind of event that affects the students to the point in which they don’t have a home anymore.

“Mostly, they’re off campus students who face this issue. It’ll be some traumatic event that has happened. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is a student who has informed their parents or loved ones that they are gay or lesbian or of their true sexual orientation and sometimes, their family is not supportive of that and they have to find a place to be,”

Helyer said.

Other times, it’s simply a money problem.

“A lot of other times, it’s simply ‘I don’t have enough money to pay my rent, I’m getting evicted. I’ve used up all of the friends’ couches and I have nowhere to be,’” Helyer said. “That’s a real issue because Bowling Green, the city, does not have a shelter. There are some in Toledo and there are some in Findlay.”

Jividen, a student who once helped homeless, became homeless herself through a mix of situations that put her into a bad position. Right now, she is living with a former homeless individual she had helped before and managed to get onto their feet and get a job and an apartment.

Jividen believes that she is not the only student at the University who is homeless and still attending school, and she knows that she isn’t the only person in the community who is homeless right now.

“I know I’m not the only one that is going to college and is homeless. In fact, I know I’m not the only one in this town. I’m positive there [are] quite a few of us out there and that’s because the cost of attending college is so expensive,” Jividen said.

While the cost of attending a college is high, Jividen said it’s important for students to remain in school, regardless of their situation.

“There’s an endgame, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel as long as you stay in school,” she said.

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