That number represents the amount of people who experienced homelessness in 2015.
While most people think that homelessness only affects certain people in particular areas and demographics, those at risk can be veterans, families, youth and most definitely students.
“This can happen to anyone for any reason, and I think that’s what really needs to be said more often,” Joey Tucciarone, an Intake Coordinator for Appalachian Regional Coalition on Homelessness, said. “Many people have come through my office and told me various stories on how they ended up without somewhere to live.”
Tucciarone himself experienced homelessness twice while he was in school due to unstable relationships.
“I left the first relationship because it had to happen—the marriage was toxic—so I packed up all of my belongings and couch surfed with friends,” Tucciarone said. “Luckily I had $400, but that was all I had to my name besides my guitars, video games and clothes.”
The second relationship he was involved in showed similar signs to his previous marriage, so Tucciarone left and experienced it.
“I didn’t really rely on any programs or really have a safety net for either time,” Tucciarone said. “I figured there were people who had it a lot worse than me and considered my situation stressful and sad, but more inconvenient than anything.”
Tucciarone graduated from ETSU with his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and his Masters in Public Health.
He plans to start on his PhD next year, which he knows will be a financial challenge with a child on the way and a significant other who is also in school.
“I was obsessed with school, and I would pour myself into everything in order to distract myself from what was going on,” Tucciarone said. “Libraries and coffee shops would be open all night, so I would drink a lot of energy drinks and study all night.”
Although he claims his obsession with school might have been considered unhealthy, Tucciarone feels that it would be easy for a student’s homeless situation to affect their grades.
“There’s no shame in in that, though, because you are going through a rough time,” Tucciarone said.
Education is important to Tucciarone, not only for himself but also for his clients.
“I have a veteran that recently obtained housing and we helped him enroll in school,” Tucciarone said. “I’m all for getting people the opportunity and helping them access necessary resources to gain more knowledge.”
Resources exist on campus for students, whether that be the Counseling Center or Bucky’s Food Pantry. Students face a lot of stressful situations and while most people joke about the “ramen diet,” this is a lot of truth for some students.
“If we value education and being able to concentrate on school without worrying about how you will eat or where you will stay, then we should make resources available to students with of limited means,” Tucciarone said.
“Really, if they need the help it should simply be available.”
Tucciarone encourages people to reach out and let others know what they might be experiencing in so they might connect to resources.
“Anything can happen at any moment, and even if you don’t want to share details, you can come talk to me,” Tucciarone said. “You’re not alone in this, and you don’t have to suffer alone.”