SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- A student group advocating for the homeless attending San Jose State University is demanding spaces be set aside inside a campus parking garage so homeless students can sleep in their cars.
"The parking spaces will give people a safe place to sleep," said Student Homeless Alliance member Saline Chandler.
Students want a minimum of ten parking spaces in the 7th Street garage be reserved as safe overnight parking for homeless students.
"We do know that there are dozens of students who are sleeping in their cars and are fearful of having to wake up every few minutes, scared of someone who might break in or a police who might cite them. Which is why we want a safe space of ten spaces. And we could need more," said Student Homeless Alliance member Mayra Bernabe.
Last year, KPIX first reported how an adjunct English professor, who was also homeless, was sleeping in her car parked in the 7th Street garage.
The CSU Chancellor's office reported last year that 13 percent of San Jose State's student population has been homeless within the last year. That is the highest in the CSU system and represents about 4,000 students at SJSU.
"It's kind of hard when you can't find a place to sleep, can't find a consistent place to shower," said one formerly homeless student, who only identified himself as James.
James said he was a homeless student until three weeks ago when he got into housing on campus. He said he would get rousted if he parked in the garage, so he spent nights in the King Library, which is open to students 24 hours a day.
"Sometimes the best way you can get some sleep is face down on a desk in the computer lab as a student," explained James.
Besides spaces in the garage, students are demanding 12 beds in the dorms for up to 60 days and $2,500 emergency grants for students to stay in housing if they can't pay rent.
Students say so far, the university hasn't responded to their demands.
"When we don't get a response, it makes us assume that nothing is being done," said Bernabe.
No one from the University was available for comment on Wednesday, but a spokesperson said the school has updated its website for students in crisis to find services more quickly.
Additionally, a permanent food pantry will open on campus next month to feed students who are hungry.
The Student Homeless Alliance has launched a Change.org petition drive asking the university to respond to the student's demands.
The petition had over 450 signatures as of early Wednesday evening.
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