SJSU Cares Helps Uplift Students in Need


Imagine trying to focus on final exams while worrying about where you’ll sleep or how to pay for your next meal. In a market as expensive as San Jose, it’s a struggle faced by many students, from freshman Spartans to doctoral students. At San José State University, however, help is available.

“I slept in my truck for a few days, and one of my classmates said, ‘You should check out SJSU Cares,'” said Luis Jauregui, ’24 Industrial Engineering. “Right away it was like the next day they were able to help me with my financial aid. Once I started getting help, I could just focus on my job and not have to worry about my life situation. I would live right here at school, which was the coolest thing you could ask for.

SJSU cares, the university’s program that provides basic resources and services to students, works closely with them to meet their needs and circumstances. This includes emergency and transitional housing, emergency food and financial assistance, and clothing through a partnership with the Office of Sustainability. The university encourages students to seek help, so they can overcome a short-term crisis and stay on track to graduate.

“We want students to succeed in San Jose State because we know higher education is essential to transforming lives and livelihoods,” said Acting President Steve Perez. “SJSU Cares was created to be a crucial buffer, a respite from economic emergencies that can derail even the toughest student. We know there is still a lot to do and, with student input, we are moving in that direction.

Students can access emergency beds on campus through SJSU Cares.

Enrolled students are entitled to up to 28 days of emergency housing, weekly access to the Spartan Food Pantry, help enrolling in CalFresh, financial counseling, and clothing for everyone’s clothing. days and career-related activities.

From July 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021, 213 people contacted SJSU Cares citing short-term housing as a concern. Of the 173 people who attended an appointment with a case manager, every student received help — 80% resolved by getting financial aid, a housing referral, lease help or a scholarship ; 13% through short- or long-term housing through the university’s partnership with the Bill Wilson Center; and 7% through emergency housing available on campus.

The SJSU Cares Quarterly Update from January to March 2022 reflects similar trends although overall housing resource requests were lower than at the end of 2021.

“Most students need money to pay rent or secure a lease, while others need short-term residence when they move, sometimes preferring to stay off campus. Most importantly, any student who works with SJSU Cares receives assistance with housing and other basic needs,” said Ben Falter, Senior Student Affairs Officer who oversees the program.

Falter also wants students to know that they do not need to take loans or maximize loans to receive aid, that those who are undocumented are welcome, and ultimately that students determine the forms of assistance that are appropriate for them.

A 12-bed pilot program launched in fall 2021, with student associates providing funding for the fall semester. The program is now funded by the university and will continue indefinitely. The program is one of many options available to students in need of emergency housing. Additional short-term options are offered through hotel vouchers, while longer stays are coordinated through the Bill Wilson Center.

“For the program to be successful over the long term, it must be built with input from those it serves,” Perez stressed. “We appreciate the passion and contribution of the Student Homeless Alliance and other stakeholders. It’s not always an easy path, but it’s the one that will take us to a higher place.

Raising awareness

To raise awareness of SJSU Cares and overcome any stigma associated with seeking help, the university has launched an awareness campaign that is promoted through social media, on-campus digital signs, drop-in events, and outreach by UPD officers who may be among the first to see students sleeping outside. Effort features current SJSU students share their experiences with SJSU Cares, including use of emergency housing services.

Inside the Spartan Pantry

The Spartan Food Pantry celebrated its third anniversary in March by welcoming its 50,000th student visitor.

“We appreciate the students’ willingness to come forward and openly share their experiences,” Perez said. “It helps normalize conversations about basic needs and overcome the stigma some may feel about asking for help. Ensuring students are aware of SJSU Cares and the services available to them is a university priority.

In November 2021, SJSU Cares opened a new office on the first floor of Clark Hall, providing additional visibility and space for students to meet confidentially with case managers. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, SJSU Cares has helped students facing basic needs insecurity, referring them to CalFresh and the Spartan Food Pantry, which hosted its 50,000th student visitor last monthand was among the most used services.

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SJSU Cares Facts

  • SJSU Cares provides resources and services to SJSU students facing many types of unforeseen financial crises. If you’re having trouble paying for food, off-campus housing, or other bills, come to SJSU Cares for the help you need.
  • If you find yourself living in shelters, parks, motels, or cars, or temporarily couch surfing because you have nowhere to go, SJSU Cares helps you secure stable, regular, and adequate housing. .
  • Are you currently registered and living in an unsafe environment with nowhere to go? Are you homeless or at risk of becoming so soon? You may be eligible for Rapid Rehousing, a housing assistance program in partnership with the Bill Wilson Center.
  • No student should have to deal with food insecurity. The Spartan Food Pantry is a full-service, staffed food assistance program offering non-perishable, fresh produce, and refrigerated items to eligible students.

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