Honors students partnered with the Foothill Family Shelter to talk about resources for the homeless population at the Homelessness Resource Fair Nov. 29 in Sneaky Park.
“Anyone can be homeless,” said Amy Elzik, senior business administration major. “It’s not a certain type of person that can be homeless, it’s not a certain gender or age or family size or race that can be homeless. This is a cause that’s near and dear to our hearts… (and) the homeless are just the same as if it were you and I.”
Lacey Corcoran, senior psychology major, said that the fair was for the hosts’ honors senior project.The students conducted research about homelessness in the U.S. and abroad, and they collected donations for the Foothill Family Shelter around Thanksgiving, she said.
Corcoran said that reasons for homelessness vary from country to country, and that Los Angeles has one of the largest homeless populations in the nation.
“Here, one case is that rent is unaffordable for someone with a minimum wage job,” Corcoran said.
At the homelessness resource fair, there was music, free food, a t-shirt bag making station and a donation bin. Participation at each booth earned a visitor a raffle ticket, items such as University of La Verne shirts and sweatshirts were raffled off.
Krista Perrin, senior anthropology major, said that the honors students chose to host the fair on campus to raise awareness about homelessness among the La Verne community. “We wanted to host this at school in Sneaky Park so that students who are privileged enough to have a college education…have the ability to learn about homelessness right here in La Verne or in our own local community,” Perrin said.
A representative from the Foothill Family Shelter, Monique Zarate, hosted a booth to recruit volunteers.
“These events are super important because it builds relationships with your surrounding community,” Zarate said.
The Foothill Family Shelter is always searching for more volunteers and if anyone is interested, Zarate said they should submit an application.
Melissa Lach, senior education major and president of the Gender-Sexuality Alliance, talked about issues specific to homeless LGBTQ individuals. She said that while 10 percent of the general population identifies as LGBTQ, LGBTQ individuals comprise 40 percent of the homeless population.
“The reason a lot of them are homeless is because they were kicked out of their families for their sexuality,” Lach said.
The booth offered sheets of paper for people to write notes of support to the Los Angeles LGBT Center. There was also a display of a tent covered in statistics and facts about the homeless community. Inside the tent was a mirror and a sign that said “Who could be homeless?” Elzik said that when people look into the tent, the mirror will show a reflection of themselves.The installation was intended to teach people that anyone could be homeless.
Robert Duran who had recently lost his job, and a place to stay, found the event by chance. When he told his story to the organizers of the events, the students gave him one of the t-shirt bags and the hoodie originally intended for the raffle. “I am on the street all these times… and I can see by people’s looks on their face… they don’t like what they see,” Duran said. “(But) when they (people at the event) looked at me…. I could tell that they were concerned. They were really there to make a difference… They wanted to help somebody… They were sincere.”
Micaela Krumweide, junior psychology major, said that she learned that substance abuse, lack of affordable housing, and mental illness are the most common causes of homelessness for single individuals.
“We have a family friend who is living in a tent due to substance abuse,” Krumweide said. “To them, that’s what they live for now. Having a house or food becomes secondary.”
Though the homelessness drive ended, anyone can still participate in the seasonal donation drive. Perrin said donation bins can be found around campus and donations can still be made until the end of this semester.