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How a Long Beach professor helped nab funding for homeless services across CSU system

The California State University system recently received a recurring $15 million in state funds to address student homelessness and hunger issues, partly because of a study by two professors, one of whom teaches at Cal State Long Beach.

A study by professor Jennifer Maguire from Humboldt State University and professor Rashida Crutchfield from CSULB found that 11% of students in the 23-campus CSU system faced homelessness at least once over a one-year period, and more than 40% experienced food insecurity or hunger, a CSU announced on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

“For a lot of people it was surprising news,” Crutchfield said in a Wednesday phone interview.

The recurring funds will help the CSU Basic Needs Initiative, which helps students find housing, provides emergency money and food, and connects students with other resources they may need.

The study was conducted in 2017 and published in 2018. Timothy White, the CSU’s chancellor from 2012 to 2020, tasked Crutchfield and Maguire to do the study, knowing that some students face food insecurity, homelessness and poverty, the CSULB professor said.

After the study was published, Crutchfield said, White used the findings to persuade legislators to address student homelessness and hunger in the state budget.

For the study, Crutchfield said, she and Maguire held focus groups, surveys and interviews with school staff, faculty and administrators to hear what students are struggling with.

They then conducted a study of nearly 25,000 students at all 23 campuses and held interviews and focus groups with more than 200 students at 11 campuses, Crutchfield said.

“Having those numbers and hearing the stories of our students really helped ground a vision for change,” said Crutchfield, an associate professor of social work and the executive director of the Center for Equitable Higher Education at CSULB.

Money has already been dispersed to CSU campuses to support its basic needs program, but Crutchfield and Maguire have a few recommendations on how that money can be spent.

Their study encourages the CSU system to train faculty and staff in trauma-informed practices, strengthen relationships with local community organizations and expand the Basic Needs program.

It also recommends continuing support for the CalFresh Food Stamps program and implementing new awareness campaigns to destigmatize issues like poverty and food insecurity.

“We want folks to think about how we focus to engage students who we know need it the most,” Crutchfield said.

Source: Orange County Register

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