Providing Opportunities for the Education of Students Experiencing Homelessness: A Resource

Tara Moretti, LMHC | Updated/Verified: May 14, 2024

College is a time for learning, growing, and exploring. However, finding a safe place to sleep at night is also a challenge for some students. This might be tough to believe, but it’s a reality for far too many students across the country.

The numbers are more shocking than you might think. Studies show that about 17% of community college students are homeless, and the numbers are similar at four-year schools. That means in a classroom of 30, about three or four students might not have a stable place to live. All in all, federal data estimates that roughly 1.4 million undergraduates and 166,000 graduate students are experiencing homelessness around the country.

For students struggling to find a place to live, focusing on academics can be tough. The good news is that there are resources that can help these students – as long as you know where to find them and share them with the students who need access the most. This page is filled with information that we hope will open your eyes to some students’ struggles and inspire you to help.

8% of undergraduates and 4.6% of graduate students experience homelessness at a four-year institution.

We can make a difference in the lives of students working hard to better themselves through education despite the odds stacked against them – and that difference all starts with this list of resources.


United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

Known as the USICH, this agency is part of the federal government, researches the best way to end homelessness, and provides links to its work.

National Alliance to End Homelessness

The Alliance, as many call it, is an organization devoted to ending homelessness through free training programs, toolkits, and other resources.

National Coalition for the Homeless

Many of the people who work with this coalition were homeless in the past and use their experiences to find solutions to the problems facing others today.

National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

NAEHCY is a national organization with members who provide help to homeless children of all ages, such as higher education and housing.

National Center for Homeless Education

NCHE offers a 24/7 helpline, free training programs, and state and local resources for homeless people in need.

SchoolHouse Connection

This website offers a variety of free resources for K-12 and college students, including hearing from people who were once in your shoes.

StandUp for Kids

Discover how you can stand up for kids through this organization, which uses volunteers and donations to help homeless people of all ages.

National Health Care for the Homeless Council

Webinars and research papers are just some of the resources available through this organization, which believes everyone deserves access to health care.

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

This organization partnered with others nationwide to provide homeless vets free shelter and other resources that get them off the street.

Family Promise

Family Promise supports families struggling with homelessness, paying for temporary housing and helping them find landlords and permanent housing.

Wrap Around Services

History of the Wraparound Process

Read through this short history to see how the wraparound process works and how different groups and individuals can support homeless students.

Wraparound Services

Housing Forward has budgeting classes, a legal aid clinic, health services, and other programs to help homeless students get their needed support.

Watch Me Rise: An Evaluation of Wraparound with Homeless Youth with a Child Welfare History

Check out this article to learn about the benefits of wraparound programs for kids experiencing homelessness, especially within the first six months.

Partnering with School Social Workers to Expand Local Homeless Liaison Capacity and Provide Wraparound Services under the American Rescue Plan Homeless Children and Youth Program

This detailed PDF looks at the American Rescue Act of 2021 and how social workers can use it to help children facing homelessness today.

Looking Glass Community Services

Find out about this organization’s programs, including rural options for those outside of major cities and transitional programs for older kids.

The Case for Housing First

The National Low Income Housing Coalition offers this PDF as a way for readers to see the benefits that students get when they have adequate housing.

17% of community college students experienced homeless in the last year.

On Campus

Access to Higher Education for Students Experiencing Homelessness

Find many resources on this site that show you some of the programs college campuses offer and how to find out what is available on your campus.

5 Guides to Helping Homeless College Students

Look through these guides to see how you can get free food, housing, health care, and other support as a homeless college student.

Higher Education

NAEHCY has resources for homeless college students, including information on completing the FAFSA for financial help and information on what to expect in college.

Housing Insecurity and Homelessness Among College Students

This piece explores some of the issues facing college students who are homeless, such as the high cost of education and the challenges it presents.

Online Resources

SAMHSA Homelessness Programs and Resources

The SAMHSA offers an extensive list of online resources for homeless students with a focus on how they can get help with their mental health and substance abuse.

How to Get Help if You’re Experiencing Homelessness

Visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness to learn how to find shelter in your area and where to get referrals.

Find Immediate Assistance

Also available from SAMHSA, this page looks at housing resources, referrals, and other support for students who live on the streets and need help.

Homeless Resources and Programs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has free programs and resources for those without homes and links to federal help.

The Salvation Army

Visit this site and enter your zip code to see what programs The Salvation Army offers in your region, such as shelters, food pantries, and substance abuse treatment.

Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships

This PDF, created by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), includes links to faith-based programs for the homeless.

People Experiencing Homelessness and Their Service Providers

This site offers information for veterans and others and teaches you how to apply for Social Security benefits and other assistance if you’re homeless.

Homeless Assistance

This site, part of the HUD Exchange, features stats from every state and links to homeless programs that offer general assistance.

A Homeless Resource Guide

Use this guide from the Joint Office of Homeless Service to learn how to get emergency help, food, clothing, and support through helplines.

211 Info

This website lets you enter your zip code to find housing or shelter along with food and financial support in your area from any device with internet access.

Housing Resources

List of Joint Office-Funded Shelters

Load this page from the Joint Office of Homeless Services to see the shelters they fund, who they serve, how many beds they have, and other information.

Find Shelter

HUD offers a free search that lets you find clothing, food pantries, health care, and shelters near the location you enter.

Need Housing Assistance

Whether you are homeless or about to lose your home, HUD can help you find landlords in your city and affordable rental units, shelters, and subsidized units.

United Way

The United Way provides support and helps you find other organizations that can help with food, clothing, shelter, employment, and much more.

Homeless Shelters

Shelter Listings is a website that lets visitors click on a state to find a list of shelters, but it also enables you to look for shelters in specific cities.

Family and Youth Services Bureau

This branch of the federal government maintains an extensive database of programs and resources to help homeless people in every state.

Covenant House

The Covenant House website helps you see some of the issues facing homeless youth, including human trafficking, mental health, and affordable housing.

Affordable Rents for College Students

College Housing Northwest created a program designed to give students in the Northwest access to affordable housing to keep them off the streets.

Learning Without a Home: Will a Housing First Approach Work on Campus?

The National Alliance to End Homelessness examines current and past research to determine whether providing students with adequate housing will help them succeed.

As Students Face Housing Insecurity, Oregon Colleges Find Creative Ways to Boost Graduation Rates

Read this article to learn about a pilot program in Oregon that gave students access to affordable housing and the success of the program.

Technology Can Bridge Homeless Youth to Services, so Local Groups Hope to Engage Them

In this piece, learn about a Pennsylvania program designed to give kids access to technology like phones to increase their opportunities.

Rates of food insecurity are higher at for-profit institutions (32.9%), historically Black colleges and universities (38.8%, and tribal colleges and universities (35.5%).

Food Resources

Feeding America

Use the Feeding America site to get answers to any questions you might have and to find food banks and pantries near you.

Food Finder

Food Finder believes no one deserves to be hungry, which is why it has a search engine that shows you the hours of operation and location of nearby food pantries.

Food Pantries

Available from The Salvation Army, this page on the official site shows you how to apply for SNAP, use mobile food banks, and find pantries nearby.

Forgotten Harvest

Forgotten Harvest provides emergency food for those in need and lets you view its schedule to see when it will be near your location.

Educational Support – Scholarships, Funding, Etc.

Project 10 Million

From T-Mobile, this program helps students get free internet access and lets them or their parents apply online for funds in just five minutes.

Verizon Forward

Use this website to see if you qualify for Verizon Forward and learn how to get free internet access or at a low monthly price.

Internet Essentials

Load this site and enter your address to see if you qualify for a program that gives you internet access for free as long as you’re in school.

Emergency Broadband Benefit

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a government program that caps the amount you pay per month for the internet if you meet the income limit.

Learn to Be

Students of all ages struggling in their classes can use this website to find tutors with experience in various subjects who are willing to work with them for free online.


Connect with more than 20,000 coaches experienced in different subjects who can help you with tests, college applications, and more on this site.

Varsity Tutors

This site offers a range of free courses that can help you in school and teach you skills that will assist you in finding a job.

Scholarships for Higher Education

The NCHE has a page on its site dedicated to scholarships, focusing on homeless students to show them when and how to apply.

How New FAFSA Could Help Homeless Students

Katherine Knott wrote this article to review the new FAFSA and discusses how it asks fewer questions, which may help homeless students get more financial aid.

Homeless Children’s Education Fund

The Homeless Children’s Education Fund offers COVID-19 and other resources for homeless students, such as how to get prom clothing and educational assistance.


Campus of Opportunity: A Qualitative Analysis of Homeless Students in Community College

Though some assume that homelessness only affects specific populations, this study identifies the rising number of homeless community college students.

When Your Students Are Hungry and Homeless: The Crucial Role of Faculty

The three authors of this piece examine the role faculty members play in their student’s lives and what they can do to help those in bad situations.

"It’s Like a Mountain:" The Lived Experience of Homeless College Students

Valerie Karen Ambrose wrote this dissertation to take a detailed look at the lives of college students who are also homeless.

College Student Homelessness: A Hidden Epidemic

Chad Klitzman discusses colleges’ issues regarding helping homeless students, as they cannot provide free housing or other resources.

Resilience Among Homeless College Students: Co-Constructed Explorations

This journal article examines the strengths of homeless college students and how they use those strengths to face challenges their peers do not.

A Review of Estimates of Housing Insecurity and Homelessness Among Students in U.S. Higher Education

Katherine M. Broton discusses how the lack of affordable housing increased homeless students, especially in higher education settings.

Prevalence and Correlates of Food Insecurity and Homelessness Among University Students

Multiple authors worked on this piece, which examines how homelessness and food insecurity rose and their effects on college students.

The Role of University Students’ Wellness in Links Between Homelessness, Food Insecurity, and Academic Success

This piece also examines students’ health and wellness and explains the link between homelessness, food insecurity, and academic success.

Homeless: How Residential Instability Complicates Students’ Lives

This journal article provides a comprehensive look at the impact that inadequate housing has on students and the complications it brings.

Homeless and Hungry in College

This article, which examines how being hungry and homeless has a big impact on today’s college students, takes just a few minutes to complete.

Serving Former Foster Youth and Homeless Students in College

Several authors worked on this piece to find college campuses that offer housing and other resources to homeless students and former foster kids.

Jumping through the Hoops to Get Financial Aid for College Students Who Are Homeless: Policy Analysis of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007

The FAFSA asks for a lot of information from those seeking financial aid, and this article reviews the form and how recent changes have made getting aid easier.

Where Will I Sleep Tonight? A Qualitative Case Study of Homeless and Displaced College Students

This dissertation from a student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, offers a case study focusing on the issues facing homeless students.

Healthcare and Mental Health

Community-Derived Recommendations for Healthcare Systems and Medical Students to Support People who are Houseless in Portland, Oregon: a Mixed-Methods Study

This study examines the results of surveys given to community organizations in Portland and what it found regarding residents’ healthcare needs.

Addressing Social Determinants of Health Among Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

SAMHSA provides many statistics about homelessness in the United States, including how many experience chronic homelessness and their race and gender.

Health: Physical and Mental Health

NCHE offers a list of free physical and mental health resources for homeless young people and takes the time to describe each one and what they do.

Student Homelessness: Lessons from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS)

SchoolHouse Connection shares the results of a major national survey to discuss what we can learn from youth at risk of homelessness.

Schools Struggle to Meet Students’ Mounting Mental Health Needs

Arianna Prothero wrote this piece to talk about schools’ struggles in helping students along with alternative programs like the Sarah Pyle Academy.

We are Failing Our Most Vulnerable Children

College professor Tyrone C. Howard looks at how many children live in poverty in the United States and how this impacts their physical and mental health.

Health Care Services for Homeless People

This book provides a comprehensive overview of the programs that offer health services for homeless people, including their types and approaches.

Behavioral Health

This site is filled with statistics on the connection between homelessness and behavioral health and offers links to programs for those who want to learn more.

Caring for the Health and Wellness of Children Experiencing Homelessness

Head Start defines homelessness on its website and examines its effects on kids and the support that local programs provide.

Assessing and Treating Complex Mental Health Needs Among Homeless Youth in a Shelter Based Clinic

The team behind this study spent almost two years looking at the mental health needs of youth who sought help from one of several clinics.


Engaging Homeless Students in College

This book, just 16 pages long, offers a first-person account of a young woman who was homeless and overcame the challenges it presented.

Students Experiencing Homelessness on College Campuses

The authors of this book use statistics to show that students at all levels face homelessness and that it’s one of the most significant barriers to their studies.

When We Walk By: Forgotten Humanity, Broken Systems, and the Role We Can Each Play in Ending Homelessness in America

Choose the e-book or buy a standard copy of this book to learn how every person in the US contributes to the homelessness crisis and how to help.

College (Un)bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students

The author of this book examines how the traditional college experience is impossible for some and why schools need to change how they support coeds.

Rough Sleepers

Tracy Kidder wrote this book about Dr. Jim O’Connell and his work helping rough sleepers who slept at night on urban streets.

So You Want to Solve Homelessness? Start Here

This book, by Andrew Hening, who spent more than a decade working with those in need, explains how you can help end the homelessness crisis.

Teaching When the World Is on Fire: Authentic Classroom Advice, from Climate Justice to Black Lives Matter

Lisa Delpit edited this book, which includes stories from teachers who have been on the front lines as their students have faced challenges in recent years.

Homeless at Age 13 to a College Graduate: An Autobiography

Anthony D. Ross wrote his autobiography to show students that they should never give up hope as he told his story of going from a homeless kid to a college graduate.


Ending Student Homelessness Podcast Series

In this podcast, experts and professionals share their thoughts and opinions on how the nation can end homelessness among students.

Young, Unhoused, and Unseen

Though it focuses on Pennsylvania, the Young, Unhoused, and Unseen podcast looks at the challenges facing unhoused students.

Extra Credit: One Homeless Student’s Journey

Listen to Amya Shaw talk about her experiences growing up in shelters in NYC and how being homeless impacted her studies and time in school.

I Will Be Your Voice

I Will Be Your Voice is the voice of homeless youth, sharing their stories as experts discuss the challenges of being an unhoused student.

Voices Amplified Podcast

Voices Amplified consists of four episodes, each covering different groups and people struggling with homelessness in the United States.

Understanding Homelessness with Dr. Zapata

Episode 11 of this podcast focuses on a project launched at Portland State University that uses comics to help students talk about their experiences with homelessness.

Hello Dogtown

Hello, Dogtown bills itself as a podcast about homelessness, with episodes devoted to homeless rights, the challenges created by COVID-19, and other subjects.

Student Homelessness is at an All-Time High

The minds behind this podcast talk about the recent increase in homeless students and the issues around why it isn’t commonly known or discussed.

The Invisible Crisis of Youth Homelessness

Sherilyn Adams works with homeless youth in San Francisco and uses her podcast to discuss how many kids end up on the street and what they need.

Let’s Talk

Let’s Talk went live in 2021 with a focus on runaways. It now examines issues related to runaways, such as gender and sexual identity.

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