Los Angeles Community College District students with housing insecurity issues or homelessness could find relief thanks to an agreement with a non-profit organization approved by the district's Board of Trustees, it was announced Tuesday.
The agreement with Los Angeles Room & Board will provide about 35 dedicated beds plus other support services to students.
It follows a similar memorandum of understanding approved by the board in April with another non-profit, Shower of Hope, which plans to provide another eight beds and support services for male LACCD students enrolled at East Los Angeles College who are facing homelessness.
"These partnerships are just the beginning of finding innovative solutions to help our students who are homeless and who need a safe place to sleep, to study and a place they can call home," LACCD Board of Trustees President Andra Hoffman said. "We know that about one in five of our students have had housing insecurity needs or are homeless. These pilot programs, which do not directly cost the district any money, are paving the way today for even more such programs and partnerships tomorrow."
Both programs are accepting applications. The first students are expected to begin moving into their new temporary housing later this month. Each program has eligibility criteria that require the students to be continuously enrolled at college, apply for financial aid, maintain a satisfactory GPA, be employed or actively seeking employment and pay a monthly fee ranging from $250 to $300.
The L.A. Room & Board pilot program will help provide current low-income LACCD students who are experiencing homelessness with transitional housing, meals and other student support services in a large, single dwelling building in Westwood that can accommodate up to 50 students.
Due to COVID-19, the program will start with only about 35 students.
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"Our work has become critically important as COVID-19 has exacerbated student needs,'' said Sam Prater, founder of the organization.
"Joblessness and economic insecurity have become much more acute and now students are without a safe place to live or access the technology they need to persist during these fraught times. This is why The Opportunity House project is so vital right now."
The Opportunity House is the first program effort by L.A. Room and Board. At full capacity, it is a 50-bed facility to provide stability and support to students in pursuit of their college degrees.
Students interested in the program are encouraged to fill out the application at https://opportunityhouse.larnb.org.
Mel Tillekeratine, CEO of Shower of Hope -- also known as End Homelessness California -- said under its agreement with LACCD, Hope Housing will provide transitional housing for ELAC students experiencing homelessness. The program will start by offering housing in a single dwelling home in Rosemead for eight students this month, eventually expanding to more capacity with support from its partners.
ELAC students can begin the application process for Hope Housing by visiting https://tinyurl.com/HopeHousing-ELAC.
"The basic need for stable housing must be addressed as part of comprehensive services for college students," Tillekeratine said. "They can't go to college if they don't know where they are going to live. The devastating effects of COVID-19 are forcing more and more low-income students to quit school and work to support themselves creating a never-ending cycle of poverty. We give them hope not by just simply providing housing, but by providing meals, resources, counseling and community support to stabilize their lives, complete their education and emerge as future leaders in their community."
While Hope Housing is specifically working with ELAC students, the L.A. Room & Board program is open to students throughout the district.