COVID-19 from a College Student Perspective

June 5 2020

StandUp for Kids - Orange County

We can all agree on one thing right now. These times are strange. Everything has been impacted by COVID-19 and we are all experiencing a world we don’t recognize. It’s been months now since normalcy. Months since businesses and schools were open, grocery stores were stocked with toilet paper and paper towels and going outside didn’t include a mask and gloves. It feels like we’re living somewhere between a zombie apocalypse and what Martial Law might feel like. Things are getting more hopeful each day but it’s a scary time for college students right now. I would know because I am one.

My name is Courtney. I'm currently a marketing intern at StandUp for Kids - Orange County and a full-time student at California State University, Fullerton. I'm 23-years-old, married, and living on my own with my husband and our dog. Though I'm a college student, times are just as unsure for me. Growing up, I was always told that pursuing higher education would mean obtaining a career that would provide stability for myself and my family. I didn't think, just before graduating, I would be this close to homelessness due to a possible eviction.

Just two months ago, my biggest worry was graduating from college this year and deciding on what career path I was going to pursue. That's now on the backburner. Now I worry about how I am going to pay my rent, afford groceries and catch up on all of my past due bills.  This is something I never thought I would have to go through.

My husband and I were working full-time before the pandemic. He was working in private property construction until early March, but construction on personal homes had all ceased as social distancing orders went into effect and people's stable incomes were lost. I was working for my father's small business of 32 years. Ninety percent of our revenue came from schools and school district's special education departments. When schools closed and shifted to online instruction, our orders took a huge hit. Orders have decreased so much and I'm worried about not having a job to go back to when normalcy returns. If orders don't increase again, and fast, our business might have to close for good, leaving my 67-year-old father out of a job. How can I ask him for help when he is struggling just as much, if not more than me? He's worried about losing his long-standing company, which would be devastating for him. Not to mention looking for a new job at his age would be near impossible for him to find.

Without help, we are facing an eviction once the quarantine order is lifted. Food stamps only provide me with $15 per month for food, as I face past due car payments with repo orders looming overhead. For now, we have a place to stay, which many aren’t as lucky to have during these challenging times. Many were living in dorm rooms and forced to evacuate. With social distancing orders, friends turned them away in fear for their own safety.  This left them without even a couch to sleep on, essentially kicking them to the streets, leaving them all but forgotten.

StandUp for Kids hasn't forgotten them. StandUp for Kids will not turn them away. I know that if I ever need them, StandUp for Kids will be there for me, but many don't. They don't make promises they can't keep. They'll be there for you and try their best to help you in any way they can. Even if they can't, they will look for a contact that can better assist you. That's just how the amazing people at StandUp for Kids are. I ask that if you know of 18-24-year olds who need food, clothing, medical, or basic hygiene needs, that you urge them to call the StandUp for Kids hotline for assistance.

According to Dr. Stephanie Schneider (StandUp for Kids - Orange County's College Project Director), before COVID-19, Orange County had up to 14,000 college students from 18-24 living in cars, on friends' couches, or in other unsafe arrangements. That number was from just last year. StandUp for Kids in the previous two months has seen calls for assistance double, showing just how largely students and other young adults have been impacted by COVID-19. Funding is needed now, more than ever.

If you want to learn more about college homelessness in Orange County you can read Dr. Stephanie Schneider's OC College Impact Report here: https://www.standupforkids.org/blog/article/covid19-impact-report-college-students-in-orange-county.

To join the fight you can donate today, here at: https://www.standupforkids.org/OrangeCounty

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