The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Homeless on campus


A homeless man hides his belongings on
A homeless man hides his belongings on April 29 at the Alkali Flat train station.

Two City College students break stereotypes of street people


Hana King | Staff Writer
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Many students face obstacles on a daily basis: Work, school and making rent on time are just some of the things that create stress and chaos in the life of the average student, but for some, troubles run much deeper than that.

According to City College sociology instructor Pam Flaherty, there are between 50 and 200 students on the City College campus who are homeless. The national focus on Sacramento’s infamous tent city has shed light on the issue and helped it to gain national attention.

Geoff Taylor and Kat Haas are two City College students who dealt with homelessness for six months in 2004.

“Homelessness can affect anyone at any time,” Haas says. “People live that way because their circumstances put them there.”

Taylor and Haas’ circumstances were roommates who spent rent-money on something other than rent, making them homeless, followed by the high cost of living in Santa Barbara, keeping them homeless.

Both students take issue with the perpetuation of the myth that all homeless people are mentally ill or addicted to drugs.

“Homelessness is not just a bunch of dysfunctional people,” says Taylor, who was gainfully employed during the period of his life that he and Haas were homeless.

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Taylor and Haas slept on beaches and in their 1996 Mazda pickup truck when they were homeless.

Taylor says the hardest part was the instability of not knowing where they were going to sleep, or what one of their frequent run-ins with the police would mean.

“You had to hope for a cool cop on a daily basis,” Haas says.

“[The tent city] just needs to be left alone,” agree Taylor and Haas. 

They believe that a tent city can provide refuge to the less fortunate in society.

“Portland runs a tent city,” says Haas. “Where people can use each other as a resource. There should be a place where people who don’t have a lot of money can still live well.”

Not everybody agrees that tent cities are the best answer to the problem of homelessness.

“Tent cities spring up because these people do not meet the criteria to stay in other shelters,” Flaherty says. “Adding beds to established shelters is a terrific idea.”

Flaherty started a discussion group in 2004 to address the issue of homelessness on the City College campus.

“We wanted to educate everyone and create awareness about the problem.” The group even established a protocol to help students assess their options. She wants to encourage students who are homeless or are about to become homeless to seek help before dropping classes.

“We have seen that there are different parts of campus that have established mini food banks and voucher programs. This campus is really sensitive to homeless and needy students,” says Flaherty who points out that there are also emergency funding opportunities for City College students on the verge of losing their homes.

Sometimes the circumstances that make students homeless can’t be avoided, but City College is staffed by people who care. The help is there; students shouldn’t be afraid to seek help when they need it.

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