“My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.”–Isaiah 3:18
Jill and I have been concerned for some time about the problem of homelessness facing nearly 20% of community college students. We’ve seen and talked to homeless community college students who were hanging out in our neighborhood. We know a dean at PCC who is doing what she can to address this problem. Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions, apart from more affordable housing. So it’s heartening to hear that a bill is being considered by the state legislature that would allow community college students to sleep in their cars overnight in school parking lots. This isn’t an ideal solution but it’s a step in the right direction. We’d like to see a caseworker assigned to students facing homelessness who could help them to be housed.
Homelessness has come to California’s public colleges, just as it has to every other institution in the state. In the community college system, a recent report found that 19% of nearly 40,000 students surveyed had been homeless at some point during the previous year. Some community college campuses have food banks, and all are required by law to make showers in their athletic facilities available to homeless students. But few of the 114 community college campuses offer housing to any of their 2.1 million students, let alone homeless ones.
So Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) has come up with a creative idea: Why not let homeless students who live in their cars park overnight on campus? Although that’s not a solution for homelessness, it would offer a short-term fix for homeless students with cars who are already working on a long-term answer — getting a college degree to broaden their options and increase their earning power.