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Part 3: Homeless college students, vacant dorm rooms - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Part 3: Homeless college students, vacant dorm rooms

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San Luis Obispo -

About two weeks after a KSBY News investigation revealed the growing number of homeless college students on the Central Coast, one of these students now has a place to call home.

Fourth-year Cal Poly student Geovanni Ximenez-Garcia has settled into a room on campus, paid for by donor funds from the Cal Poly Cares program. Previously, he had been living in a building on campus to avoid taking on more debt. At the time of the story, Ximenez-Garcia thought he owed $25,000 in loans; but he says he checked again recently: “It's really $40,000. The $25,000 was just the subsidized loans.”

After he shared his story earlier this month, campus officials got in touch with him and helped him find a place to stay.

“I just can't stop smiling. It was so unexpected,” Ximenez-Garcia said, explaining he decided to tell his story so that people would understand how some students struggle. “I'm more than thankful. There are no words. I keep thanking them through emails and it's not enough, to me.”

Still, he wonders how his room could have been available when there are other students like him who struggle with homelessness.

When KSBY News reporters knocked on doors, we found rooms no one is using. We looked at six on-campus apartments and found 15 available beds for students. According to housing records, there are 89 available campus wide, out of more than 7,000 beds.

“I've been here a quarter and they were unoccupied and then the previous quarter they were also unoccupied,” third-year student Dempsey Davis said. She lives with one other student in an on-campus apartment that sleeps six.

Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Humphrey says the number of vacant rooms is normal considering the number of students who come and go.

“There could be many reasons why a space is vacant. It could be held for a student who is studying abroad,” Humphrey said, noting hundreds of rooms have been converted to triples to accommodate the growing student population.

Cal Poly President Jeff Armstrong acknowledges costs are too high for some students to make it work.

“We want to find any homeless student we can and help them, as well as other students in need,” Armstrong said.

As for whether he plans on going to the CSU Board of Trustees to see if tuition or fees can be lowered, Armstrong says, “the chancellor has formed a task force to see how we can do things better.”

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