In Lancaster County, for every 1000 students there are at least 24 of them who are currently homeless, according to a study conducted by PennLive in 2016.
Despite homelessness being a hot topic in the county, there have not been any reported incidents of homelessness for students on Millersville’s campus in the past five years, said Millersville’s Chief of Police, Pete Anders.
“Our officers are not seeing student homelessness as an issue,” Anders said. “This does not mean it has not existed, simply that we are not encountering student homelessness.”
However, there are some people who use the university’s resources in times of need, said Anders. In a situation like this, they would not permit the homeless person to stay on campus, but would put them in the right direction of shelters in the Lancaster area.
“We’re always thinking about safety for our students,” said Anders.
While active homelessness has reportedly not been much of an issue at Millersville, Anders said he has encountered students who were struggling to make ends meet, and may not have had places to turn.
If a student is having difficulty finding where to get their next meal, Anders and his teammates direct people to the Campus Cupboard.
Located in the basement of the First United Methodist church on campus, the Campus Cupboard is a college-based food pantry that provides food and resources for students who are tight on money, or those who have no other places to turn.
“Officers have also assisted students in need out of their own pockets on occasion,” said Anders. “We promote a culture of caring.”
As a former police officer for Lancaster city, Anders encourages those who are struggling to make ends meet, or those who are actually homeless, to take advantage of the opportunities given in Lancaster. “It is not a crime to be homeless, there are numerous folks on campus who are here to help.”
If a homeless person is encountered on the street and asks for money, Anders advises against giving people money flat-out; instead, he encourages people to walk with them to a local eatery and perhaps buy them a drink or a meal instead.