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Student group works to raise awareness of homelessness

More than 20,000 people were homeless in Massachusetts last year, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report. And in Boston alone, nearly 17,000 people were in emergency shelters, according to a report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

This week, Northeastern’s Resident Student Association is doing its part to raise awareness about the issue through programs and activities open to all Northeastern students.

Jessica Goodman, S’18, started planning Homelessness Awareness Week in the summer. As co-vice president for programming and collaboration, she said she wanted the RSA to offer meaningful events to the Northeastern community.

“I wanted to plan something that was educational and impactful for everyone who attended, as well as for the community we live in,” Goodman explained.

On Wednesday, RSA will volunteer at the Greater Boston Food Bank from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. There are still spots available, and students can sign up by filling out this form or by emailing rsa@neu.edu.

“In Boston the homeless population is one we see every day, and we should be aware of the different parts of the community we are a part of,” Goodman said.

On Thursday, RSA will host a presentation by the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance’s Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau, which is a group of former and current homeless people who share their stories and advocate solutions to end homelessness.

The event starts at 8 p.m. in the Curry Student Center’s fourth floor suite, rooms 442, 444, and 448.

All this week RSA is collecting donations of new toiletries and office supplies for the Pine Street Inn and the St. Francis House. Drop-offs can be made from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at RA offices in Stetson East, West Village E, East Village, and Willis Hall.

Earlier this week, students participated in an activity with the Northeastern chapter of Habitat for Humanity that simulated what it’s like to be a homeless person applying for housing. Students were given a fake biography, mock applied for housing, and then learned what restrictions prevented them from getting housing. RSA also collaborated this week with Circle K and the Social Justice Resource Center.

They also made 30 blankets for the New England Veterans Shelter.

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