By Jose Ivan Cazares
MONTEREY PARK — The Los Angeles Community College District is offering room and board for students facing housing insecurity through a partnership with the nonprofits Los Angeles Room and Board and Shower of Hope.
The district is accepting spring semester applications for a pilot program housing a limited number of students. Los Angeles Room and Board operates a facility called the Opportunity House near UCLA with 50 beds for LACCD enrollees, while Shower of Hope is working with East Los Angeles College to provide an additional eight beds available to male students in the city of Rosemead.
Students must apply for financial aid, maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average, be employed or actively seeking employment and pay a monthly fee ranging from $250 to $300. Students who can’t afford the fee can volunteer instead or might be eligible for CARES Act funding, said Cecilia Cruz, East Los Angeles College Health Center coordinator, during a virtual student town hall Dec. 3.
“We encourage all students to apply, even if they do not meet the requirements, so we can reach out and provide support and resources,” Cruz said. “We can also help connect them with other programs they do qualify for,” she added, including a women’s program that ELAC is scheduled to launch in January.
Both pilot programs began accepting applicants in the fall, but because of COVID-19 precautions, only 35 out of the 50 beds at the Opportunity House can be filled on a first-com,e first-serve basis.
Housing insecurity is a major problem among the LACCD student body. A report from the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Homes and the district estimated that 55% of its students are housing insecure, while almost 20% have experienced homelessness.
Opportunity House provides transitional housing for students, as well as meals and academic support services including tutoring.
“The basic need for stable housing must be addressed as part of comprehensive services for college students,” said Shower of Hope CEO Mel Tillekeratine. “They can’t go to college if they don’t know where they are going to live.
Community college students are one of most affected demographics when it comes to California’s housing crisis, with one in five experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. The state Legislature is scheduled to consider AB 302 next year, which would provide safe parking on campus parking lots.
LACCD Board of Trustees President Andra Hoffman hopes that the pilot program will lead to more opportunities to help housing insecure students.
“These pilot housing programs, which do not directly cost the district any money, are paving the way today for even more such programs and partnerships tomorrow,” she said in a September press release.
Jose Ivan Cazares is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the East Los Angeles area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.