By:  James Lipsett

Homeless and underprivileged students are a reality at Algonquin. However, many have found ways to stay in school and find a place to sleep.

A main concern for many students who plan to attend college is their financial situation. Post-secondary education is expensive. A combination of tuition, required books, along with essentials of life such as food, clothing and a place to live make it challenging.

Some are fortunate enough to have monetary support from their family, while others make money over the summer and during their studies. What about the students who can’t afford all of the above? The ones that are determined to educate themselves but aren’t able to fund all of the essential components.

There are more of these situations surrounding us than one might think.

Brennan, a second year Algonquin student, has managed to maintain solid grades while struggling with finding a steady place to live. “It’s really tough sometimes,” he said, “Occasionally, I have to sacrifice an assignment because I’m in the process of finding somewhere to sleep. I think it’ll be worth it in the end.” Right now, he is living with a friend and his family. “They said I could stay as long as I need to, but I don’t plan on being there for long. I don’t like to mooch off of people.”

For the unfortunate that don’t have friends to stay with, there are alternate options. The city of Ottawa offers services for people in need which students can benefit from. Shepherds of Good Hope, located at 233 Murray St, provides an evening drop-in program from 5:30-9:30 p.m. in which clients can have a free meal, enjoy social activities and participate in addictions therapy groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. They also offer men’s and women’s shelters for those who need a place to sleep.

Patrick, a first-year Algonquin student, has taken advantage of the services that are available at Shepherds of Good Hope. “Obviously staying at a shelter isn’t my first choice, but it’s better than sleeping on the streets, I’ve done that before and it’s not fun. The people who work and volunteer there are always nice and do their best to make you feel comfortable.” said Patrick.

Bringing awareness to this problem has the potential to help Algonquin students be at their best when it comes to their studies. Students that are experiencing these kinds of circumstances should be encouraged to seek help, whether it is from a friend or from a shelter.