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UC Davis Students Open Townhouse For Their Peers Experiencing Homelessness

DAVIS (CBS13) - A group of UC Davis students is giving back. Aggie House is a townhouse near campus for students struggling financially or experiencing homelessness.

Three founders are running the shelter are fourth-year students making a difference in the lives of their peers.

During freshman year, COVID-19 kept Marvin Lopez away from the UC Davis campus.

"I was basically on Zoom the entire time," said Lopez a UC Davis Student who lives at the Aggie House.

Finally, sophomore year rolled around and Lopez was excited until his parents told him they couldn't afford to send him back to school.

"My dad said, 'I don't have money for you right now,'" he said.

With nowhere to turn, a friend referred him to Aggie House.

"I was able to tell my parents, 'hey, I have a place,'" he said.

The Davis townhouse is a shelter for UC Davis students experiencing homelessness.

"I wasn't born to have the luxury to have a good starting point in my life and my parents did everything they could and so I would really like to say thank you to you guys for helping me out," said Lopez.

Katie Shen, Allie O'Brien, and Ashley Lo are students at UC Davis and founded Aggie House, relying on volunteers for help.

"Aggie house is a registered students organization with UC Davis," said Katie Shen, one of the Aggie House founders.

The non-profit is funded through university grants and donations, allowing residents to live in the six-bedroom townhouse for free.

"They're given up to a year guarantee to stay here. Breakfast and dinner are provided, they get case management services, help applying for financial aid, employment opportunities," said Shen.

According to UC Davis, 18 percent of students experience homelessness.

"That can look like risk of eviction couch surfing living in cars," said O'Brien.

"There's no judgement here and we're all working together to assist our residents," said Lo.

For Lopez, home is exactly what this is.

"Thank you for taking the initiative to help me and others like me because. Sorry. Thank you to you guys," he said.

Several universities in California are running similar programs through a non-profit organization called Students 4 Students.

UCLA's Bruin Shelter and USC's Trojan Shelter are just two examples.

The students running Aggie House are hoping the idea takes off nationwide.

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