Momentum Builds for Community College Housing Projects for Homeless Students
The Los Angeles Community College District, the largest community college district in California, is now advancing a $1.5-million pilot program to house more than 100 homeless, struggling students. In addition to housing, students will receive food, Wi-Fi and mental health support if needed. Some will also receive academic tutoring, academic and financial counseling, technology, and employment assistance. Five local nonprofit organizations will provide housing. Applications are being accepted now, and the program will run until April 2023.
California's undergraduate enrollment has dropped significantly during the pandemic, driven largely by a decline at community colleges, which saw a drop of 20 percent between fall 2019 and fall 2021. According to the district, 68 percent of its 250,000 students come from low-income families and 53 percent live below or at the poverty line. Many students have prioritized jobs and food over education. A 2020 study from UCLA's Center for the Transformation of Schools found that one in five community college students was experiencing homelessness, including people sharing housing because of a loss of housing or economic hardship, those who live in motels, hotels, cars, parks and other, similar settings.
Other community colleges across the state are continuing to evaluate housing options for their campuses for the first time. This is made possible by new state funding and the advocacy focus and research from groups like U.C. Berkeley's Terner Center for Innovation and Housing, and UCLA's CityLab.