California’s housing crisis has left many community college students either homeless or facing housing insecurity. A new California State Assembly bill, introduced in January, offers a temporary solution- allowing students to sleep in their vehicles in campus parking lots and structures.
Bill 302, introduced by Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, would require California Community Colleges to make their facilities such as parking lots and structures, accessible overnight to any student who is enrolled in coursework, has paid enrollment fees, and is in good standing with the community college school district. A state law already requires the colleges to provide homeless students access to shower facilities on campus.
At the moment, Cypress College is in negotiation with the City of Cypress to make the campus parking structures accessible to struggling students living out of their cars. In the meantime, Cypress offers a Food Bank drive that not only provides food, but clothes as well. Cypress also opens its Gym for students in need of showers.
Cypress is just one of many community colleges experiencing a rise in homelessness among the student body, proving that the issue is statewide according to Berman.
Though implementing a bill such as this would be somewhat helpful, it would not entirely eliminate the issue at hand which is the housing crisis in California. Once these students transfer to a university or a CSU then what happens? Will this bill require universities to open their parking structures as well? This bill does not specify anything about universities providing the same resources as community colleges.
Bill 302 could help many homeless students who are trying to improve their lives. Community colleges opening facilities with showers has been one small step in helping these struggling students. Opening parking structures would be a bigger step. However, it does not change the living circumstances of these students. If the bill does not plan to resolve the housing crisis many students are facing at the moment, then we cannot deem the bill as being effective.
A possible solution to the issue could be creating multiple temporary housing in cities where college student population and percentage of student homelessness is the most prominent. Or following a policy created by global school business network that lists several recommendations that schools and districts could follow.
First and foremost, create or refine systems that identify homeless students, focus on outreach efforts to inform homeless students and their families of their rights, and more importantly implement safe spaces on campuses that encourage students to stay in school, reach out to support groups outside of school and create warning systems that forces faculty to be more alert and responsive.