Number of Homeless Sac State Students Increasing, University Says

SACRAMENTO -- Officials at Sac State say the number of homeless students on campus continues to grow.

Last semester, more than 250 students applied for emergency help through the school for either a one-time financial grant, emergency food or just a bed to sleep in.

School officials believe that number will double by the end of the current semester, which ends next week.

"We already passed 250 requests like a month ago," said Beth Lesen, dean of students at Sacramento State.

The school considers a student homeless if they do not have a permanent residence, meaning they can either sleep in their car on somebody else's couch, and in some cases students do literally live on the street.

Lesen believes part of the reason for the increase in students seeking help relates to the rise in rent costs.

"Sacramento has been a hot rental market for the past several years, the good news is the rents have stabilized," said Jim Lofgren, executive director of the Rental Housing Association.

Lofgren says in recent years the average annual rent hike in Sacramento is 8 percent.

However, new data shows that a year from now, rent in most places will probably only go up 3 percent to 5 percent.

But why does it keep going up at all?

Lofgren says no new options are hitting the market.

"The real problem in this market is that we rank pretty much dead last in the country for new construction for apartments. The solution that we have to implement is to build more housing," Lofgren said.