The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU) is proud to announce that the Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative at Portland State University has been named a CUMU research fellow. During the center’s six month appointment, they will lead the design and implementation for CUMU’s 2021 Summer Action Summit. The summit will feature an action-oriented agenda where housing research and community outreach experts will explore the role higher education must take in mitigating housing insecurity and homelessness among students and surrounding communities.

“This partnership will help us collaborate with universities and researchers around the country to identify how we can better address homelessness, particularly for people of color, on campuses and in communities through research and action,” said center Director Dr. Marisa Zapata.

CUMU collaborated with the Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative over the past year to establish a working group of CUMU member institutions with a shared commitment of developing solutions and actionable steps to address homelessness and housing insecurity. The working group, made up of ten public, private and religiously affiliated institutions, will continue to meet under the fellowship, which will expand and formalize their efforts to ensure continued progress. While homelessness is a societal issue, institutions must develop local response plans that meet the needs of specific neighborhoods and communities.

“Homelessness is a complex problem that is vexing communities across the country,” said Portland State University President Stephen Percy. “I am proud to see the expertise of the Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative recognized with this fellowship. The work that emerges from this collaboration will support Portland State’s mission as an urban serving university and our ongoing effort to pursue racial justice and equity.”

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From the perspective of higher education, homelessness and housing insecurity present significant barriers for students in their pursuit of achieving post-secondary success. The pandemic is only exasperating this already large problem, and students of color are experiencing disproportionately higher rates of basic needs insecurity. According to the Hope Center’s national survey of college students, nearly three in five respondents reported basic needs insecurity, 14 percent reported homelessness, and the gap between Black and White students was 16 percentage points. Students enrolled at CUMU member institutions face similar rates, but across the coalition, leaders are seeking to develop solutions.

“Portland State’s Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative will serve as an excellent partner in furthering this work across the coalition. Addressing homelessness and housing insecurity for our students, faculty, staff and community is a critical issue area and one we are committed to not just talking about but making substantive progress on,” said CUMU Executive Director Bobbie Laur.

CUMU strives to develop and disseminate information and opportunities for member institutions to address the most pressing issues of today, including homelessness and housing insecurity. This fellowship enhances CUMU’s commitment to supporting holistic student success.

Founded in 1989, the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU) is the longest-running and largest organization committed to serving and connecting North America’s urban and metropolitan universities and their partners. CUMU focuses on strengthening institutions that are developing new responses to the pressing educational, economic, and social issues of the day. Learn more at

The Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC) brings together faculty from Portland State University and Oregon Health Science University with expertise in disciplines ranging from psychology and architecture to medicine and linguistics. We believe that it will take all of us working together to address the issues that lead to and perpetuate homelessness. We work alongside community partners, elected leaders, and those experiencing homelessness to help create solutions with an emphasis on communities of color. Learn more at