Homeless San Jose student advocates say summer months present new challenges

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Building a Better Bay Area is a round-the-clock task that doesn't stop for summer break. In the South Bay, advocates for homeless students at San Jose State University are continuing their push for more resources and say there are even more challenges for the population during the summer months.

ABC7 News was there in December 2018, when dozens camped out at SJSU to highlight student homelessness.

Our cameras were there in March, when students rallied and demanded the university take action.

RELATED: San Jose State University has highest number of homeless students across CSU system

In April, we were present for the State of the University address by SJSU President Mary Papazian.
Still, the Student Homeless Alliance (SHA) said little has been done to stop student homelessness.

"We were talking about this last December, with the weather being really cold," Alejandro Mayorga said. "Now, it's summertime and we're still having this problem with it being really hot."

Mayorga is the new leader of SHA.

RELATED: Rally to support homeless students at San Jose State University

After a CSU report found more than 13 percent of SJSU students were struggling with homelessness, the group put pressure on the university to provide more options to those lacking food and a safe place to sleep.

"The administration is a little out of touch with what students actually need," Mayorga added. "They need housing. They need somewhere to go. They need an environment where it's for-students."

He claims that during the school year, many homeless students spend their nights at King Library. When school is in session, the library is usually open for 24-hours from Sunday to Thursday.

However, in the summer months, operating hours fluctuate. Monday through Thursday, doors are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Doors close much earlier Friday through Sunday, and any student hoping for refuge is out of luck.

RELATED: Homeless student advocates disappointed by lack of details in housing plan at SJSU
"I'm not sure what that means. It could be shelters, it could be back to their cars, couch surfing if there are friends here," Mayra Bernabe with the Student Homeless Alliance told ABC7 News. "But I know many students have also gone away for the summer."

She said the summer months mean more students are away from campus, and fewer couches are available to those who "couch surf."

In May, ABC7 News reported the university is eyeing the Alquist building in Downtown San Jose for possible affordable housing units. The Alquist building is an underused state government building, which houses several state agencies and the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

The Student Homeless Alliance is hoping any potential move will help solve at least part of the problem.

ABC7 News reached out to SJSU. No one was immediately available for comment.

A spokesperson pointed to student resources which remain available over the summer. SJSU Cares and the university's permanent food pantry offer assistance to students in crisis.

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