Opportunities to find housing grows through LACCD programs and local shelters.
By Cassandra Nava, News Editor
Valley College is working hard to combat the issues of student homelessness, especially due to the hardships brought about by COVID-19.
Students who are home insecure need a space to study and focus on school.This is possible through the Los Angeles Room and Board Pilot Program and Campus and Peer Navigator Program. Homeless centers are also available for temporary relief, and most offer basic needs and services to transition out of homelessness.
“These partnerships are just the beginning of finding innovative solutions to help our students,” LACCD Board of Trustees President Andra Hoffman said in a recent LACCD news release. “We know that about one in five of our students have had housing insecurity needs or are homeless. 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.”
The LA Room and Board Pilot Program offers students transitional housing in Westwood, at a facility known as the Opportunity House. Prior to the pandemic, this house was supposed to house 50 students, but now only 35 community college students can sign up. It creates a sense of community for students who are struggling with similar issues. According to this resident guide, it offers social events, academic support workshops and one-on-one support.
"Our work has become critically important as COVID-19 has exacerbated student needs,”said Sam Prater, founder of Los Angeles Room & Board. “Joblessness and economic insecurity have become much more acute and now students are without a safe place to live or access the technology they need to persist during these fraught times.”
The Campus Peer Navigator Program works with students to offer resources that can end their housing crisis, according to Valley’s website. The program works to introduce helpful community resources along with the Central Entry System, a system that connects high needs people to available housing and services. In the peer navigator program, a peer works directly with a student and helps to simplify the process of accessing a myriad of resources.
Shelters are a good option for students who are food and housing insecure. The two centers close to campus are LA Family Housing and Burbank Temporary Aid Center. According to their website, LA Family Housing is a center that helps to transition people out of homelessness and provide them with services that create long-term housing stability. The facility has helped despite issues the pandemic brings, by enlisting the help of Project Roomkey — a program that ensures motel or hotel rooms for those in need. By offering a safe place to stay indoors, the spread of COVID-19 can be prevented through this already vulnerable demographic. In April, LAFH helped move an entire encampment of 43 people into a Project Roomkey hotel, according to this article by Medium.
Burbank Temporary Aid Center is available to students as well and is closely monitoring the guidelines set by the CDC and WHO. Although still open, some services have been reduced or temporarily discontinued. According to their website, the core services that will continue are: monthly grocery orders, monthly government groceries and daily sack lunches for the homeless. For more information, students and community members can check their website or call at (818) 848-2822.
Valley’s Helping Hands Project can provide great resources to students who don’t know where to start through partnerships with The Village Family Services, Hope of the Valley, LA Family Housing, MEND and local shelters. Students can email email@example.com if they have questions. To contribute to the fund, students and community members can find more information on www.lavcfoundation.org.
According to the Helping Hands website, “Our vision is to be a temporary bridge that allows students to successfully complete their educational goals and have access to resources. HHP endeavors to be the first program on campus to tackle and reduce incidences of homelessness and food insecurities on campus.”