Fresno State program helping students who could become homeless during COVID-19 outbreak

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- As Fresno State students and faculty adjust to virtual teachings, many of the services that make up daily life on campus have suspended operations.

The Student Union is closed, but the library and dorms remain open as Fresno State works to accommodate students who can't leave.

The university offers a support program called the Renaissance Scholars for any student who has experienced foster care or homelessness in their life.

How long that will last is the question.

As the global crisis continues to grow, these students are becoming more vulnerable to becoming homeless.

Administrators say these students are on strict budgets and can only afford housing that is covered by financial aid, along with any income they earn from part-time jobs.

"They have to have enough money to pay for their rent, but that includes the money they can monthly," says Renaissance Scholars Adviser Adriana Vasquez. "Now that the pandemic has happened, if their income has been effected, we are going to see that in the next few months."

Fresno State says there are 69 students in the program, and most of them live off-campus.

Without a job and help from family, these individuals could soon fall behind or fail a class and risk losing their financial aid.

"They're trying to survive, their full attention will not be on classes," Vasquez said. "Which I would say is completely understandable. So what we want to make sure is they have a secure place to stay, and then we will worry what comes after that."

While the dorms at Fresno State remain open for the time being, the director of the Department of Social Services is working on a plan to help these students if the situation gets worse.

"For our foster youth that are returning from college because their dorms are closing down, we'll probably wind up renting some apartments for those individuals," says Department of Social Services Director Defino Neira.

If you'd like to support these students, you can reach out to Fresno State and the Renaissance Scholars program.

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