UNO offers resources to combat housing, food insecurity

Photo courtesy
Jessica Wade

Pursuing higher education is expensive, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha is no exception.

With an estimated tuition and fees cost of $7,630 per academic year, it is highly likely that many college students will experience some form of financial insecurity during their academic career. However, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Pettid said that there are resources to help.

Pettid said that one of those resources is the Housing Support Fund.

“Thanks to a private donor, in this last year we have funds that are reserved for a student who is facing housing insecurity, and those funds can be applied for them to live on campus,” Pettid said. “A student needs to be nominated by someone, a committee meets to check out their situation and we move forward from there.”

Pettid said that the fund is not meant to be money that can be used toward applying for an apartment off campus but is designed to help a student stay on campus.

If staying enrolled at the university isn’t an option for a student, Pettid said that she has resources for that route as well.

“We want to help them continue here at UNO and that’s our primary goal, but first and foremost is a student’s safety and well-being,” Pettid said. “If it’s decided that they can’t stay in school, then I’ll also help connect them to community resources as well.”

Pettid said that there are many factors that can lead to housing insecurity. Whether the situation derives from a break up, domestic violence, job loss or the relocation of family members, Pettid said she is prepared to help students explore their options.

“The first step is to be comfortable telling someone, and it certainly doesn’t have to be me,” Pettid said. “UNO has a culture of care, and that’s just not a saying. I’ve worked here nearly 20 years, and this is really a special place. We care about our students holistically, that means their academic wellness, their emotional wellness, their physical wellness and that includes housing security.”

For students who may be facing food insecurity, the Maverick Food Pantry is another resource to utilize.

Established in 2013, the pantry’s Program Manager Alyssa Spartz said that the Maverick Food Pantry was established after the university realized there was a need for food assistance among students.

“If a student is constantly thinking about where their next meal is coming from, they are likely to have a hard time focusing on academics or really anything else,” Spartz said.

The Maverick Food Pantry is located in room 130 of the Community Engagement Center.

No matter the situation, Pettid said that students shouldn’t be afraid to share their concerns.

“Be brave enough to share a concern, and know that there are a lot of caring and trustworthy people who have the resources to help,” Pettid said. “There’s sometimes a real stigma associated with housing insecurity, whether it’s pride that gets in the way or maybe embarrassment. If you can trust in the process, we want to be able to help our students.”