Student Homelessness at Georgia State

Graduate students in Nutrition opened Panthers Pantry in 2014 after a survey discovered that 68% of GSU students had faced a type of homelessness since starting their studies. Photo by Sameoldsmith on

Names of students have been changed to protect anonymity.

College student homelessness is a serious problem in the United States. Though the problem may seem hard to spot, it is right under our noses. The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice of Temple University surveyed nearly 86,000 U.S. university students and found that 32% have experienced homelessness.

Many students at Georgia State are currently experiencing homelessness or food insecurity. Panther’s Pantry is a food pantry located on the main Atlanta campus. Graduate students in Nutrition opened the pantry in 2014 after a survey discovered that 68% of Georgia State students had faced a type of homelessness since starting their studies. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Panther’s Pantry has seen a dramatic increase in student visits. The pantry serves as many as 135 students in one week, while prior visits were only about 11-13 students per week. 

Adela, a 22-year-old Art major at Georgia State and a regular at Panther’s Pantry, has recently been experiencing a period of homelessness over the past few months. Due to a turbulent home situation, Adela finds themselves floating in between spaces and crashing on couches. 

Adela identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. Their parents, refusing to accept them, created an environment so toxic that they would rather couch-surf than be stuck in their childhood home. 

Adela has had a hard time with their studies this semester, bouncing between multiple jobs and having nowhere to call home. They said it feels like school should be their main priority, but it is almost impossible to focus on studies without a place to lay their head at night. 

Charles, a 23-year-old Business major at Georgia State, faced homelessness when he discovered that a family member had stolen thousands of dollars from him. He said that the relative had wholly drained his savings, leaving him with nothing and nowhere to go. 

He began living out of his car. He went to school full-time during the day while also working evenings as a bartender. Charles said the hardest part of being a homeless student was the strain it put on his studies and the struggle of trying to feed himself. He said he dropped around 15 pounds during the six months while living in his car.

When it was too cold to sleep in his car, he offered to cook his friends a nice meal using whatever they had in the fridge in return for a place to stay for the night. His friends loved his cooking so much that sometimes they would ask him to stay for a few days. Charles said these were his favorite days when he had a warm meal and a couch.

It doesn’t help that there are few resources for homeless students on campus. The food pantry is a great start, but it’s not enough. Georgia State could be and should be doing more for its homeless students. 

The school has resources for homelessness on the GSU website under a tab called The Embark Network. Still, it is merely a list of things like the phone numbers for the Counseling Center and the University Advisement Center. These are not entirely unhelpful as mental health is an important thing to take care of, especially in such a stressful situation, but it is simply not the priority for someone who has no place to sleep. 

Finding assistance can be tricky because, in many cases, homelessness is not an immediate emergency but a slow burn. This reality means many students do not qualify for emergency assistance until too late. 

A reallocation of funds is necessary to start fixing this problem. The FAFSA and CARES Act grants are not enough to cover the entire cost of attendance at Georgia State. An on-campus organization dedicated to solving student homelessness would be an incredible way to increase awareness of the issue. 

It is absurd for students to worry about having food to eat and a place to sleep, on top of already having to worry about classes, grades and transportation. Especially when the school has the resources to ensure all students are safe and happy. 

If you are a student experiencing homelessness or food insecurity, please know you are not alone, and resources are available. If you require emergency assistance, you can fill out an Emergency Assistance Request

If you face food insecurity, you can visit the Panther’s Pantry. There are pantry locations on the Atlanta, Clarkston, Decatur and Dunwoody campuses.