You are here

From Homeless to Hopeful

Friday, February 12, 2021

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (February 11, 2021) – When T.C. looks around her room at the Framingham State University residence hall, she feels extremely lucky that she was selected into the Commonwealth’s college housing pilot program, which provides college students experiencing homelessness secure housing on a local college campus. This program, which started in the spring of 2019, offers students a place to live, a meal plan, and an academic community to further their studies.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, this program became a lifesaver for T.C., a MassBay human services major, who found herself without a permanent place to live. “I started couch surfing and staying with friends—basically anywhere I could find a place to crash for the night. I was bouncing around sometimes from the South End in Boston, to Cape Cod, to New Bedford, to Framingham, which was not ideal for my studies. It was difficult to focus on my classes when I was worried about finding somewhere to sleep at night and how I was going to eat. I would stay with different people I knew, but did not want to ask to eat their food after they had already opened their homes to me. It was extremely stressful.”

T.C., who currently works as a health educator with Framingham’s Justice Resources Institute and a manager with Wayside Youth and Family Center, is also a full-time student at MassBay. “I work extremely hard and do well in my classes, and I am able to save some money to get on my feet after I graduate from MassBay. Knowing I have a safe place to sleep at night has helped alleviate some of the pressure. When I was couch surfing, I would contemplate going to an abandoned building to find a spot to spend a night if I could not find somewhere else to sleep. My grades were suffering, and I started failing class assignments. I wanted to withdraw from my courses, but the staff at MassBay told me about this program and helped secure a dorm room for me at Framingham State. I am very grateful. I can’t imagine trying to finish my degree without a stable place to sleep and access to food.”

T.C is far from alone, as homelessness among community college students has become a prevalent problem in America. A 2019 survey from the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice found that 17% of 167,000 respondents had experienced homelessness in the last year.

T.C. moved to the residence hall in May 2020 and says, “A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.” The program provides housing for students as well as a dining plan to ensure they have access to on-campus food options. “This program allows me to really focus on my courses and complete my degree. I hope to save enough money to be able to afford permanent housing after I graduate and then earn my bachelor’s degree. My future career plans definitely include helping young adults who may have found themselves in a similar situation and need a helping hand.”

T.C. is on track to graduate MassBay in May 2022.

MassBay Community College is the most affordable higher education option in MetroWest Boston, offering a robust portfolio of courses and more than 70 associate degree and certificate programs with flexible day, evening, and weekend classes in Ashland, Framingham, Wellesley Hills, and online. MassBay students receive an unmatched educational value by earning stackable credits that transfer to bachelor’s degree programs, and workforce-ready skills necessary to advance careers in high-demand fields such as health and life sciences, automotive technology, engineering, business, cybersecurity, and the humanities. MassBay’s Associate Degree in Nursing (RN) and Practical Nursing (LPN) programs were both ranked as the #1 Nursing Program in Massachusetts in 2020-2021 by national nursing advocacy organizations, and Since its founding in 1961, MassBay has been accredited by several governing bodies and remains firmly committed to its mission of meeting the needs of the diverse local communities it serves. We value the intrinsic worth of all individuals, collectively in pursuit of inclusiveness and prioritize our work towards achieving equity within our community and beyond.

Group Name: 
Students + Alumni