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Indybay Feature
Petition for Houseless Students
by Snail Movement
Wednesday Feb 13th, 2019 2:11 PM
Dear University Officials,

As UCSC students, Santa Cruz residents, and human beings, we are asking for the University to address a very important problem impacting our community. UCSC students, unable to afford rent, are living in our vehicles without safe places to park. Because there is little affordable housing and loans can damage the financial future of students, we are asking the University for three things.

Allow houseless students:

1. to sleep in their vehicles

2. to park for free overnight

3. to have access to a community space with kitchen and bathrooms.

According to financial aid information in US universities, there are more than 68,000 college students experiencing homelessness. One Silicon Valley study reported that over 44% of California students were experiencing homelessness or lack of access to secure housing. We as UCSC students are experiencing this right now.

Some of us make the choice to move into a car or van just to be able to get through school, fearing the instability of not finding a place to live. Others find ourselves unable to pay for housing and turn to vanlife when facing eviction. The more time we spend living in our vehicles, the more we are exposed to other people in this same situation. Whether individuals sleep in their vehicles because of finances, life trauma, lack of support, evictions, or personal convictions, we deserve basic human dignity. The main challenges of living in a vehicle range from access to safety, cookware and food, bathrooms and showers, and a quiet night's rest.

Everyone in precarious living situations knows how vital it is to have access to basic needs. At the same time, it is hard to ask for help when doing so can threaten our lifestyle. We have been sleeping in our vehicles only to be woken up by UCSC police in the middle of the night. We face this treatment despite being students of this fine institution. Imagine going to sleep not knowing if you are going to be woken up by searchlights. When the UCSC police officers wake us up, they order us to leave campus and find parking in the city.

Yet sleeping on the street off-campus is no better; we are woken up by humans who purposefully drive by and honk their horns in the morning to harass vehicle dwellers, even in non-residential areas. Moreover, parking off-campus results in aggressive letters from neighbors and contact with potentially threatening individuals. We are students who are going to graduate and succeed, and we are doing it against all odds. Now it's time to even those odds.

All we want is a safe place to park and to be treated with dignity and care so that all students can continue to pursue their college education.

We propose:

• The University community establish a policy of non-enforcement of campus camping laws or establish a safe parking program at UCSC for students, including designated lots with adequate lighting for campers, where students can sleep without fear of being harassed by the police or others.

• The University provide this service for free, since students sleeping on the streets have little access to economic resources.

• The University provide a community facility with kitchen and showers so students can have access to basic resources as well as have a place to gather and build community.

• The University attend an open and transparent discussion with us, in the East Remote Parking Lot, in front of our allies and witnesses.

• We need a lawyer to donate their services to us so we can have a fruitful conversation about the liability issue with the University lawyers.

This is also an invitation for the City of Santa Cruz and other entities to establish safe parking programs in the city and elsewhere for those who suffer the same challenges.

We invite California to step up and follow our lead.

We invite you to take care of our neighbors.

Thank you.

Sign the petition here:
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