The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) Board of Trustees voted Wednesday, April 13 to direct up to $1,540,408 million of District funds to pilot a program to provide housing for more than 100 students experiencing homelessness or at high risk of housing insecurity. This is another example of the District taking the lead in addressing student basic needs, access and support to underserved students.
This innovative program has five local area partners: Jovenes, Inc., Los Angeles Room and Board (LARB), Optimist Youth Homes and Family Services, Seed House Project, and The Shower of Hope (SoH)—all well-respected non-profit organizations that will supply much-needed housing to more than 100 LACCD housing insecure students, helping them to stay enrolled in college and graduate.
This new student housing agreement began April 13, 2022 and will run for a full year to April 13, 2023. Funding is provided through a one-time State budget allocation for student basic needs that the District aggressively advocated for in the FY 2021.
“In many ways, our students’ experiences are a microcosm of the challenges faced by millions of Californians, and that includes the issues of housing and homelessness,” said LACCD Board President Gabriel Buelna, Ph.D. “Too many of our students are housing insecure and have had their studies heavily impacted by the lack of a safe and quiet place to sleep and study. I thank my colleagues for this Board vote, it is a significant step forward in helping these students meet one of their most basic needs.”
“True equity in education is making sure we can level the playing field as much as possible and give all students an opportunity to access our colleges and succeed,” said LACCD Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez, Ph.D. “No student should be forced to choose between keeping a roof over their head and pursuing an education.”
The reach of California’s housing crisis is significant and LACCD students have been particularly impacted by current economic conditions, as high rents and cost-of-living across the board have made housing insecurity an even more urgent concern. The Board vote is an important first step in addressing this need.
“This vote was the culmination of a long process of fighting for students who truly need this support. Students will also receive wrap-around services to ensure their educational success,” said David Vela, Vice President of the Board and Chair of the LACCD Legislative and Public Affairs Committee. “These non-profit partners will help our most at-risk students complete their studies and move on to fulfilling jobs and careers.”
The LACCD student body comes from predominantly under-resourced communities with sixty-eight percent (68%) of students coming from low-income families and fifty-three percent (53%) of LACCD students living at or below the poverty-line. Housing insecurity numbers is likely to be higher as a result of the pandemic. This forward-looking pilot program and partnership with reliable and trustworthy community organizations helps LACCD directly address the immediate needs of the most at-risk students. The students will not only have access to a clean, safe place to live, but they will also be provided with food, WiFi, and mental health support if needed. Some of the providers will also include academic tutoring, academic and financial counseling, technology and employment assistance.
“We are honored to be part of this program providing housing for the next generation of leaders in Los Angeles,” said Sam Prater, founder, Los Angeles Room and Board. “As a former homeless student myself, I know how much housing insecurity concerns can weigh on those trying to manage their studies and lives.”
In 2021, LACCD sponsored SB 330 (Durazo) [Chapter 572, Statutes of 2021], which authorizes the District to develop a pilot program to build affordable housing for its students or employees. The bill allows the District to enter into partnership with nonprofits or private entities to lease property under fair market value for the construction of much needed housing, if certain conditions are met. The intent of the below fair market value provision is to allow the savings of the lease to be passed along to the students and/or staff being housed with reduced rents. The bill passed the legislature and was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.
The partnerships with non-profit partners will allow the District to meet immediate student housing needs and is another example of the District’s ironclad commitment to addressing student basic needs.