LBCC students may find help with housing through Hope Housing for Students program

Long Beach City College students can now apply for the Hope Housing for Students program, which will provide housing, food, and counseling services for those who qualify. 

Applications to this program are available for eligible students who are 18 to 28 years old and are enrolled full-time with LBCC. 

Mel Tillekeratne, the executive director and co-founder of The Shower of Hope organization, helped kick-start Hope Housing for Students in 2020. Tillekeratne said the purpose of this program is to offer more than just a place to stay.

“To be honest, a bed is the easiest thing to give,” he said. “It’s not about providing a bed. It’s about how we can help these kids grow as human beings.”

Hope Housing for Students, in addition to providing shelter and groceries, offers free therapy and tutoring services. Students involved in the program are also taught how to cook and are connected with volunteering or job opportunities. 

“This isn’t just placing students in a rental situation where we’re paying their rent,” said Mike Munoz, president of Long Beach Community College. “Students have access to health services. Students have access to career counseling opportunities.”

Tillekeratne said that a majority of the students who enter the program often come from violent or abusive living situations.

“It’s unfortunate. You’ll be surprised how many students we get who are fleeing intimate partner violence, or even violence from their parents,” he said.

When a student is administered into the program, an initial assessment will help determine how much support the student needs as far as trauma therapy and academic tutoring. A case manager then helps the student establish their long-term goals.

Saulo Hernandez, a 20-year-old third year at East Los Angeles College, has been in the Hope Housing for Students program since the fall of 2020. Hernandez is a current math major who wants to transfer to California State University, Long Beach, with a major in engineering.

Hernandez said the program has really helped him improve his grades and networked him to other professionals in his interested career field. 

“You get to meet a lot of people,” Hernandez said. “You study with them and make good friends.”

Hope Housing for Students is now one of three basic needs services provided for students by LBCC.

“We have the two existing relationships with Jovenes as well as the Economic Roundtable, and now we’re adding this third partner,” Munoz said. 

Munoz said Long Beach City College has recently requested $75 million in funding from the Chancellor’s Office to build affordable student housing at LBCC and hope to be notified sometime in March.

By Hannah Shields