Panel discusses housing problems


Andrew Shinjo

Viana Roland speaks about her experience being homeless.

At the Renter’s Rights Panel, a De Anza College student advocated for California’s Section 8 Housing Program, and shared her experience that many low-income community college students face: the struggle of finding a home.

When Viana Roland, 23, political science major, first attended De Anza College, she said, “continuously for a year, I slept in my car,” because she could not afford to rent a place in a city as expensive as Cupertino.

Roland explained how society places shame on people who cannot afford to provide housing for themselves. “I was embarrassed that I couldn’t afford to rent a room here and even after working full time as an IT contractor… pulling 15-16 hour shifts, while keeping my grades up, being in a car was starting to take a toll on me,” Roland said.

The California Section 8 Housing Program is a federal government service that provides low-income families in California access to safe and affordable housing.

Roland quoted a study that said one in ten students in CSUs are dealing with homeless issues or have inadequate shelter. Roland asked how it is possible that the wealthiest nation in the world allows its college students to be homeless.

“These are people who are believing that this is going to be their only chance to attain some kind of financial stability… and we can’t even provide them basic shelter?” Roland said. “This to me is the least that should be provided to students that are trying to escape whatever cycle of poverty they are stuck in.”

The event organizer Sandy Perry, president of the Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara, said, “We just won a very big victory pushing for a rent control program.”

Perry said that they were able to win because thousands of tenants testified the necessity of it.

“We are not poor in America,” Perry said. “We don’t have a fiscal crisis. The only reason we have a fiscal crisis is because [the corporations] are not paying their taxes. So, don’t let anyone ever tell you there is no money for housing.”