Aggie Compass student manager explains experience with homelessness
Resources are available to UC Davis students and Yolo County residents who face housing insecurities. According to the 2019 Homeless Count, which was conducted by the Yolo County Homeless and Poverty Action Coalition, 655 people faced homelessness on a single day on Jan. 22, 2019. The report noted that the number reflected only that particular day; many families and individuals go in and out of homelessness.
Lyzette Perez, a fourth year UC Davis student majoring in psychology faced homelessness in 2017. Perez, who is originally from Southern California, said her uncle lived with her family while struggling with a drug addiction. Perez described how he became violent, poked fights and yelled at her family members; one day, she decided to call the cops.
“My grandparents and my mom were upset with me because they said, ‘He’s family. How can they turn your back to family,’” Perez said. “I decided if that’s what they would rather have, I’m just gonna leave.”
She moved in with a friend in the same area before deciding to go up to Washington; her dream was going to the University of Washington. Although she and her friend had a place in mind to stay in Washington, plans failed soon before they got there.
“We had fifteen hundred dollars to our name at the time,” Perez said. “We ended up being homeless for a month.”
They slept in the car parked in a 24-hour grocery store parking lot. After figuring out obstacles in Washington; she came back to Los Angeles, where she finished up community college credits.
“I eventually transferred to Davis last year,” Perez said. “I was fortunate to find housing during COVID, and I was able to find something at a very decent price.”
Today, she is a student manager with Aggie Compass, a basic needs center. The college-focused rapid rehousing program, exclusive to students who are homeless, provides housing for homeless students, a meal plan and intense case management based on academic success. Once a month they drive around campus, seeing how many students are in their vehicles. She mentioned that in past years they found more than 10 in a month.
Aggie Compass also provides hotel vouchers for students in circumstances that might currently have nowhere else to go but shelter in their cars.
“I know that if you’re experiencing housing or food insecurity, it’s hard to ask for help; you almost feel like a shame because you’re like, ‘What did I do to myself where I’m in this spot?’” Perez said.
For those who need housing and are over 18, Davis Community Meals and Housing has a Transitional and Bridge Housing program. They assist individuals who are homeless with a safe, stable environment and help meet daily needs, like food and shelter. Ray Brent Jr., the resource coordinator of the Transitional and Bridge Housing program, details the services they provide.
“We deal with your finances,” Brent said. “We deal with drugs and alcohol. We deal with budgeting resources. We help with applications or give you paperwork to find apartment complexes.”
He says they currently? have six to eight people there, but they can serve up to 12.
“Without this place a lot of people would be in worse predicament in their lives. This place actually helps people out 100%,” Brent said. “I actually went to this program.”
Brent gives advice to those who may be afraid to ask for help.
“Understand where your fears are coming from and deal with that,” Brent said.
Resources for students experiencing homelessness can be found at the Aggie Compass website. These include emergency and short-term Housing, housing services and listings, free legal services and housing organizations.
Written by: Ellie Lee — firstname.lastname@example.org