Bikes and scooters share the road

Hazel Carter moved into Aggie House this academic school year. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Helping House

by | Apr 3, 2024 | Student Stories

Hazel Carter, a political science student at UC Davis, was balancing two jobs to pay for rent earlier this school year. The strain of this started to affect her emotional health, and she ultimately had to look into finding a new place to stay on short notice.

“I was fully preparing myself to face homelessness, and that came with a lot of stress,” said Carter. “I was thinking I’d have to couch surf for seven months.”

This situation isn’t one unique to Carter. According to data from the ASUCD-GSA Housing Affordability and Insecurity Survey, 18% of UC Davis students faced homelessness or housing insecurity in the 2017-18 school year.

Instead of couch surfing, Carter learned she qualified for Aggie House, a student-led transitional housing shelter for UC Davis students. Since its inception in 2021, Aggie House has provided transitional housing to over 60 students, supplying them with case management, food and a place to stay.

Current Aggie House co-president and UC Davis fourth-year Kathy Ton started volunteering within a couple months of its opening. Previously she worked as a general volunteer before becoming a case manager.

“It’s been incredible to see how the organization has grown over the past three years,” Ton said. “Absolutely no student should need to face housing insecurity at such a crucial time in their life, when they’re just trying to figure everything out.”

How Aggie House works

To apply for one of the nine beds at Aggie House, located near downtown on A Street, students fill out a resident application form to determine eligibility. Then case managers set up intake coordination interviews with prospective residents.

Once a resident is taken in they can stay for up to a year, though there have been instances where residents have stayed for longer. Aggie House residents are provided with various services, including meals, check-ins, and connections to resources for permanent housing options.

Electric bikes and scooters parked in racks

Aidan Hyman outside at Aggie House.

(Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Aidan Hyman, a third-year at UC Davis and Aggie House’s current advocacy and outreach director, is also a former resident of Aggie House. He emphasized how smooth the intake process was for him when he had nowhere to stay upon moving to Davis.

“I had no idea how I was going to get my financial footing, but Kathy and the other directors welcomed me and gave me a family,” said Hyman. 

The living experience

Carter started living in Aggie House this academic school year. Due to a lack of financial support, she began working two jobs to pay rent at her previous residence. Ultimately she needed to look into finding a new place to stay. 

“When it came to new leases, it was very difficult to find something on short notice,” Carter explained, noting Aggie House was different. 

In the time that she’s been at Aggie House, Carter said her mental and emotional health has improved tremendously. Not needing to worry about rent or where her next meal will come from has allowed her to focus on her health and finances, alleviating the stress of having to face homelessness.

“The volunteers make sure to check on me and see how I’m doing,” Hazel added. “I’m able to sleep in an actual bed and do my laundry without having to worry about general expenses.”

Carter said enjoys how close the house is to campus and downtown Davis, and likes meeting up with her friends to eat and play board games. 

“Everyone I’ve talked to who lives here are great people, and we’re all grateful to be helped by this wonderful organization,” Carter said.

Carter has been able to sign a lease for fall 2024. 

Covering expenses

Aggie House is funded by various grants, including one from Aggie Compass. However, many of their funding sources were unavailable this past year. 

“We were in big scramble mode trying to figure out if we could even open the house this year,” said Ton.

In December, Aggie House signed on with a new parent organization, Student MOJO, and got back a grant through Aggie Compass that covers rent. However, they’re still figuring out how to pay for other expenses like food and supplies. 

Hyman has organized a GoFundMe campaign, which has raised nearly $5,000 for Aggie House. Other forums of fundraising include tabling at the Farmers Market, sticker selling, and social media campaigns. 

“I think that now that people know more about what we do and how we’re involved in the community, they’ve been super willing to donate to the cause,” Hyman said.