Homeless student advocates disappointed by lack of details in housing plan at SJSU

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The need for housing for students and faculty is part of a new strategic plan unveiled Monday at San Jose State. However, homeless student advocates were disappointed by a lack of details.

Members of the Student Homeless Alliance sat just three rows from President Mary Papazian as she presented her "State of the University" address at the Student Union before students, faculty and staff. The Student Homeless Alliance has been pressuring the university to help students who have no place to sleep at night.

RELATED: SJSU denies campus group's demands to fight student homelessness

The strategic plan focuses on new buildings and enhancing the academic program. So we asked President Papazian where the homeless student problem ranks.

"Clearly this is right up there with addressing the well being of students," she said. "They can't get a good education if they're stressed thinking about where they're going to be every night." We asked if addressing homeless students is in the top third of her priorities. "Students are the top, and that's part of students, so it's right up there," she replied.

That wasn't good enough for Mayra Bernabe of the Student Homeless Alliance.

"For them not to be saying it's going to be in the top five or top two priority, it's really disappointing," she said. "If they don't have a place to sleep if they don't have a place to eat, how are they expected to succeed?"

President Papazian said she's reaching out to the community and the City of San Jose to try to find some short-term solutions. One of them is a city-owned parking lot on East Santa Clara Street. San Jose is in the process of allowing people living in their cars to park overnight at the Roosevelt Community Center.

"We already have offered up the opportunity for San Jose State to be able to have some priority spots in that location, considering it is so close to the school," said San Jose City Council member Raul Peralez.

RELATED: Dozens of SJSU students camp out to highlight homelessness

However, critics say other California State University campuses have moved faster to come up with dorm rooms to house homeless students.

"We are falling behind on basic needs, basic needs programs," said Alejandro Mayorga of the Student Homeless Alliance. "A lot of other campuses, as soon as the saw the study, they started implementing short-term solutions."

San Jose State will soon open a food pantry for students who are going hungry.
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