Written by Nancy Lee, as part of her Social Marketing Sightings theme.

Little did I know, until a few weeks ago, that many University students around the country are homeless, grappling with the rising costs of tuition and meeting basic needs. In fact, some studies have verified that more than a third (36%) experience “housing insecurity”, and almost 1 in 10 (9%) report being “homeless”, with many sleeping in their cars. I then learned that a Social Marketing approach was helping reduce this incidence.

An innovative program I was not aware of at the University of Washington where I teach part time has a program (product) branded Husky2Husky Homesharing, where a retired alumni (Husky) of the UW offers a student a spare room in their home in exchange for an agreed upon level of support from the student such as assistance with household tasks and/or a financial exchange. Given that there are background checks for both the alumni and the student, I see it as a perfect example of removing major barriers (e.g., safety concerns) and providing valued benefits (e.g., for the retired alumni a financial resource, and for the student, a safe shelter with a trusted social network).

References

Npr, 4/3/2018, “Hunger and Homelessness Are Widespread Among College Students, Study Finds https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/03/599197919/hunger-and-homelessness-are-widespread-among-college-students-study-finds