Native American Housing Crisis at UCI

Native American Housing Crisis at UCI

‘Gimme Shelter’: California’s housing crisis forces college students into homelessness

HOUSELESSNESS has become a growing problem in the U.S., and California, the only Pacific state that is majority Native American, has been hit particularly hard by the crisis. One of those hit hardest has been Native American student housing students of the University of California, Irvine.

In a report called Rethinking the Reservation, the organization Indigenous Education of California analyzed how the issue, particularly the shortage of Indian housing, has been a contributing factor to homelessness in the state.

The organization found that, across California’s nearly 250 tribal reservations, Native American students were the most severely impacted by the housing crisis, though white youth were also affected.

While the crisis and impact of the shortage on tribal reservations are well documented, the situation has been largely ignored on the UCI campus, most of which is under the jurisdiction of the university and the California State University system.

Many UCI students are unaware of the issue that Native American housing creates a housing crisis on the campus, while also suffering from the lack of affordable housing in general.

Despite being an official Native American Tribe, the UCI campus was the second largest American Indian reservation in the country when it was established in 1871.

“The university has a long history as a model of what you can achieve when a community comes together to meet its needs,” said James D’Amico, a history professor at UCI and the president of the university’s Native Americans Club who was a co-author of the report.

With the University of California’s current emphasis on student diversity it’s not surprising that students of color were the most affected, and the findings of the report suggest that Native American students may have been hit particularly hard.

According to the report, as of 2012, California Native students were homeless or had lived at emergency or transitional housing shelters for half of the year.

The state of California now has a waiting list of more than 90,000 families for Indian housing on the UCI campus, with a waiting list for the same housing on all campuses throughout the state. Of those on the wait for Indian housing, 80 percent are current students and 20 percent are former students.

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