Student Research Reveals Student Homelessness Concerns
College students expect themselves and their peers to deal with emails, assignments and exams. What they are not expecting is to find out that some of their classmates experience homelessness. And what you also probably aren’t expecting is that 43% of four-year institution students nationwide experience some sort of housing insecurity with 14% being labeled as “homeless” in 2020, according to a report from The Hope Center.
Jonathan Evanick, sophomore in the College of Public Health (CPH), is someone who never thought about homelessness impacting college students. Not until he attended a conference where the CPH dean spoke about the subject did Evanick realize that it was something he may be interested in researching.
“Like a lot of people, I wasn't aware that it was an issue,” Evanick said. “Like, how could so many students be in a homelessness situation? I felt like the topic was one that needed more research. There have been studies done but not throughout the entire country. Ohio was one place that was specifically lacking.”
Evanick said he wanted to conduct mixed-method research on college student homelessness throughout Northeast Ohio with the goal of getting a better understanding of the numbers of homeless students, their demographics and some practical solutions.
He started his research through the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. SURE is a program from the Division of Research and Sponsored Programs that funds undergraduate students for eight-weeks over the summer to engage in faculty-supervised research.
Evanick reached out to Aimee Ward, Ph.D., a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Geography, to help with the study.
“He approached me with a project in mind, which was awesome,” said Ward. “I really appreciate this opportunity to work with somebody in a different department than me, and I love it when students come to me with something new because I get to learn something, too.”
The pair began their mixed-method research by reaching out to four school administration departments and facilities similar to Kent State's CARES Center to conduct interviews and learn more about their student homelessness situations.
“One of our findings was that universities are unable to establish their own student resources,” said Evanick. “This then overwhelms the resources in the local community.”
They are currently surveying students on their awareness of the topic as well. If you are a student interested in participating in the survey please do so by the end of January 2023.
In April, Evanick will be presenting their results at the SURE poster presentation.
Evanick and Ward’s research on the topic will continue after the SURE program ends as his interest has continued to grow.
“The SURE Program, and especially the mentorship that Aimee has offered me, has created a lot of opportunities,” said Evanick. “It has helped me grow as a person, in the way I see the world, intellectually. It has really helped me understand what the world of research is about.”
To learn more about the SURE program, visit https://www.kent.edu/research/student-research/summer-undergraduate-research-experience.