The college experience can be subjective; defined by each individual, yet the most common definition of it may be known as one that consists of full-load; four or more classes per semester, dorming, parties, and cramming weeks for finals. However, for some, the so-called college experience may not be exactly that.
In some instances, outside forces could cause students to become homeless or on the verge of homelessness. This could add more stress onto the individual as they have to figure out how to recover from this setback. In the California State University and California Community College system, there are programs to help these students.
“At our college, we have a homeless initiative, we do have emergency funds to help support students but what we don’t have are structural solutions . . . long term sustainable solutions,” said Janet Hund, sociology professor and department head at Long Beach City College.
Long Beach City College recently held a virtual town hall meeting to discuss ways to help students that are facing housing insecurity and other basic needs insecurities. Within this meeting, they established the Helping Homeless Students Fund, which would help students that are housing insecure as well as academically, and hold fundraisers to continue helping students with basic needs along with other community resources. More information about the town hall can be found here.
LBCC isn’t the only school helping those experiencing homelessness. California State University of Long Beach currently has three programs that are aimed to help students; the Short-Term Emergency Housing, Bridge Housing and the Rapid Rehousing programs.
“Oftentimes, students who are placed in emergency housing on-campus transition to full-time residential students,” Corry Colonna said. Colonna is the Executive Director of Housing and Residential Life and oversees the Bridge Housing program.
“These students sometimes need additional counseling to understand better how financial aid works and student loans. Students with the greatest need can tap into a good bit of financial assistance. Sometimes our team just needs to help guide them through that process.”
These programs aim to help students by staying in the dorms for up to 3 weeks while they look for a place to stay and will have meals provided through the Meal Assistance Program.
For those who may have gone through their emergency fund and housing, the Rapid Rehousing program can help. It was introduced during the 2020-2021 academic year in partnership with nonprofit Jovenes as a long-term housing solution. More information about Jovenes can be found here.
CSULB has a recurring “beach pantry,” a pop-up that provides certain amounts of non-perishable foods per visit to students who experience food insecurity. The pantry also houses the “Student Swap Shop Program” which aims to provide students the possibility to swap unwanted or old school supplies. CSULB is also able to add meals to students’ ID cards through the meal assistance program. More information on Basic Needs programs can be found here.
“In my opinion, there is always an answer; however, it takes time and some “know-how” to navigate the systems that are in place. That’s where our Basic Needs and Case Management staff are so instrumental,” Colonna said.
No students were able to speak on record.