By Jeremy Arias
East Los Angeles College and The Shower of Hope partnered to create a pilot program to bring interim student housing to at-risk ELAC students.
The Shower of Hope is an organization dedicated to help serve the people suffering homelessness in Los Angeles with services such as bringing mobile showers to several locations around the city.
The partnership originally began with the Los Angeles Community College District, but was passed down to ELAC due to their proximity to the first property that The Shower of Hope was able to secure.
Digital flyers were sent to student emails and shared online on the ELAC website detailing the requirements to apply.
The applications are only open to male students between the ages of 18 to 26, since it is still only a pilot program, but The Shower of Hope anticipates having housing for students of other genders within the next six months.
The Shower of Hope also plans to give priority to the non-male students who have already applied and are seeking housing.
Other requirements include having applied for financial aid and being enrolled in at least nine units with a 2.0 grade point average during their participation in the program.
“It is a four-bedroom house that has plenty of open space. Every room has two beds for students to share a room,” said Raymond Mora, a representative from The Shower of Hope who is on site assisting with the program.
“The house was completely furnished prior to the student arrivals. All the necessities are provided by the organization,” he said.
Mora described that their current property can only house eight students due to COVID-19 and CDC safety guidelines. The house is currently at half capacity and The Shower of Hope is still looking for another four students to offer housing to.
The first month in the program is free. After the first month, a monthly rental fee of $250 is required in order to stay. However the fee can be waived by completing 15 hours of volunteer work per week.
According to Mora, the organization gauges the students’ interests and assigns volunteer work based off of that, or can assign them to one of various community organizations partnered with The Shower of Hope.
Though this program is fairly recent, student homelessness and housing insecurity is not a new issue for some ELAC students and staff.
“Even before the pandemic, rates of college student homelessness were high and even higher for community college students,” said Cecilia Cruz from the ELAC Student Health Center.
The California legislature analyzed college student homelessness and attempted implementing potential solutions like the Assembly Bill 302 (2019), that offered nightly parking lot access to homeless students living in their cars.
Cruz said that ELAC doesn’t have a precise count of at risk students, but for reasons like job insecurity, layoffs and unemployment skyrocketing after the pandemic, the rates of student homelessness have unfortunately increased.
Students interested in interim student housing or have questions regarding non-male applications may contact Cecilia Cruz at email@example.com or Raymond Mora at Development@TheShowerOfHope.org.
If students do not qualify for Hope Housing, the organization will still ensure that they connect them to the proper resources.