OPINION: Colleges should promote resources for homeless students

CN/ Ivana Amaral

By Johanna Rodriguez

Homelessness and college completion have a strong correlation with one another since it is moredif cult for students to nish college without accessible resources.

If information is not easilyaccessible, homeless studentsdo not have the proper tools tohelp increase graduation rates and decrease drop-outs.

Resources vary across campuses, but politicians have taken initiative and passing bills that help homeless students throughout all community college campuses.

These bills help with challenges homeless students face every day.

Assembly Bill 1995, which passed in 2016, granted community college homeless students access to shower facilities.

Erika Blanco, Chairperson of East Los Angeles College’s Kinesiology Department, said their showers are open to students all day.

“We have a designation timefrom 12 to 2 during the week, but we don’t turn (any students) away,” Blanco said.

The most recent bill introduced is Assembly Bill 302.

The bill “would require a community college campus that has parking facilities on campus to grant overnight access to those facilities… to any homeless student…for the purpose of sleeping in the student’s vehicle overnight.”

This means homeless students that are living in cars would be able to park on school grounds and this relieves students from searching for a safe place to stay during the night.

The Assembly Bills do come with requirements; students must be in good standing with their community college, have enrolled in courses and paid enrollment fees.

Publicizing resources for community college homeless students is an important step to help decrease the number of students that face the obstacle of homelessness.

There are many reasons for homelessness to occur. The leading causes are lack of suf cient income, lack of affordable housing and family con ict.

The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice conducted the #RealCollege survey, an assessment of college students basic needs security, which suggests that 19 percent of California community college students were affected by homelessness in 2018.

Six percent of those self-identi ed as homeless, while thirteen percent have experienced housing insecurity. East Los Angeles College was among the community colleges that participated in the survey.

Living costs and tuition fees are major factors in why many students are experiencing homlessnes. Bothexpenses have increased in recentyears and most community colleges in California do not offer on-campus housing for students.

The cost of tuition can be waived through nancial aid or pell grants,however these aids do not help withhousing.

College campuses should inform students of housing that is suitable for homeless students and the resources should be as accessible as the international students’ optional housing, within the community college website.

Advocating resources for students is a great way to help students who have questions on the topic but do not know where to ask for help.

According to an article by ACCTNow, a website reporting on issues that affect community colleges, “Advertising is necessary to make students aware of available support and also helps to normalize services and reduce stigma.”

Flyers should be distributed throughout campuses each semester in order to reach students who have recently become homeless and have not sought help.

Further ways to help homeless students are by contacting college administrators on the lack of resources that are provided for homeless students.

Letters or calls to state legislatorscan also help start new bills for homeless resources and pass bills such as AB 302.

Although it is a hard issue to confront, the social stigma on homeless students must be broken so that resources are made public and more homeless students are able to seek help and succeed in higher education.

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