By: Jessica Bustos and Mikayla Schwartz
After fourth-year linguistics major, Miranda K. Aguilar-Lorenzana witnessed someone crashing into the parked car next to her 2004 Buick Sentry, she no longer wanted to sleep in it.
“I heard people arguing and [they said] ‘leave them a note or something,'” she said. “I thought it was a dream.”
Aguilar-Lorenzana is one of the 12.5% of college students who have experienced housing insecurity.
For several months, Aguilar-Lorenzana used her Buick as both a living room and a bedroom after she moved from Hesperia, California to attend Long Beach State in the fall of 2021. She either parked on campus or at the 24-hour WinCo parking lot nearby.
However, Aguilar-Lorenzana felt the safest sleeping in the campus parking lot but there was always the possibility of the University Police Department removing her from the premises which left her feeling uneasy.
“[I felt] a little bit paranoid that somebody might say something or [I] might not be able to sleep there the whole night,” she said. “I remember a couple of nights [being] worried that campus police would boot me off.”
After Aguilar-Lorenzana struggled for a period of time to find stable housing, she now currently splits her $2,000 monthly rent with three roommates in a three-bedroom apartment close to CSULB.
Aguilar-Lorenzana said she is currently worried once her six-month lease is up, she may have to move back to the desert.
“[Our landlord] let us know that after six months [go by], our rent goes up,” she said. “It all depends on how the economy will be next month, [but] it could be more than $2,000.”
Other CSULB students such as Johanna Jimenez, a second-year illustration major, have experienced overcrowded housing and displacement that has led to emotional distress.
Jimenez said she lives with eight people and a toddler in a three-bedroom apartment where she and her brother live in one room. Her dad and another brother live in the living room while her sister shares another room with her kids and husband.
She currently takes afternoon and evening classes but stays long hours on campus during her gaps to avoid being at home.
“It makes me feel a little bit [ashamed],” she said. “They’re my family and I don’t feel like I have to get away from them, [but] it gives me some personal space.”
Long Beach city officials did not respond to the Daily Forty-Niner’s media requests regarding the city’s plan to include students in the new Housing Element.
When Aguilar-Lorenzana slept in her car, she said that her peers and professors never asked about her situation, and felt like it “was almost not real.”
“I heard that Long Beach City College was opening up their parking lot for people living in their cars,” she said. “[It’s a start] and I think it would be nice if there were more [resources] like that.”