How To Help The Students With No Homes?
The scars on Christine Banjo’s arms are still there — faint marks from the bed bugs that bit her when her family was living in a motel room during her high-school years. “Battle wounds,” she calls them: a faded but constant reminder that the college junior has been chronically homeless since she was 7.
During the school year, Ms. Banjo, who is 20, lives in the dorms at Norfolk State University. But on summer vacation and during other breaks, she has no set place to go. There’s no room for her in the rooming house where her parents live, so she crashes with friends or sublets space in a cramped apartment. Most days, her only meal is the sandwich and fries she gets during her shift at McDonald’s. She returns there on her days off just to have something to eat.
Ms. Banjo says she tries not to dwell on her status but “to put it in a box and act like a normal person.” She avoids calling her parents, because she doesn’t like to be reminded that they’re still struggling. Her father works as a valet at a hotel, but her mother is schizophrenic and can’t work.