Homelessness among California’s college students has reached crisis level. The Los Angeles Community College District reports that 20% of its students experienced at least one episode of homelessness in the prior year, while California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) students fared somewhat better: 11% and 5% reported an incident of homelessness respectively.
In 2019, California lawmakers have partially acknowledged the issue by proposing a one-time investment of $10 million for community colleges and $3 million for the CSUs and UCs to alleviate student food insecurity. While this is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t go far enough in addressing the root causes of hunger and homelessness among the student population.
California Senate Bill 568 would provide stable housing for 1500 students by establish housing resources at the Community College and CSU Chancellor’s Office as well as the UC Office of the President, and give funding earmarked toward:
- maximizing financial aid for homeless students
- implementing college-focused rapid rehousing in conjunction with local service agencies
- establishing connections between schools and their local homeless Continuum of Care
“Former foster youth suffer homelessness at disproportionate rates compared with the general population,” said Teresa Stivers, Walden Family Services CEO. “Helping them finish school, get jobs, and establish themselves as productive adults would break the cycle of child abuse and poverty they’re trying desperately to overcome.”
“Given that students from lower-income households are already at a huge disadvantage—those in the bottom 20% of the income scale are seven times less likely to graduate than those at the top—and that more jobs than ever require a degree, addressing the issue of student homelessness is not only a humanitarian one, but an economic one as well,” she continued. “We wholeheartedly support the concept of all students being able to concentrate on their schoolwork, and not on where their next meal or place to sleep is coming from.”
Walden Family Services is strongly committed to helping young people break the cycle of neglect, abuse, and trauma and encourage them to become healthy, contributing members of the community. SB 568 would help them gain the education they need to succeed.