In 2019, the Legislature established four pilot programs at the community and technical colleges (CTCs), two on each side of the Cascade Mountains, and a pilot program each at Eastern Washington University and Western Washington University. The pilot programs were set up to provide certain amenities to students experiencing homelessness and to students who were in foster care when they graduated high school.
Amenities provided in the pilot programs include the following:
By December 1, 2023, the pilot programs must provide a joint report to the Legislature. The pilot programs expire July 1, 2023.
The pilot program is expanded to include:
The pilot program's expiration date is extended to July 1, 2024.
PRO: College students are struggling with homelessness, hunger, and other things that threaten their ability to attend and complete college. In a recent Washington State survey, over half of all students experience housing insecurity. There is a need by the students for these amenities, and there is a demand for these trained individuals in the workforce. As a pilot school we took a different approach than other colleges and master leased apartments so students would be able to sign the lease with the school instead of the housing complex. Our school provides social work through our pilot program, which made it so we were able to assist a single mother we would not have otherwise been able to help.
I have been a participant of this program for the last seven months. When COVID hit, finding housing was nearly impossible and the price of housing was out of reach. I work full time as a CNA and did not have the time or funds to find a place and was living in my car. Because of this program, I was able to continue school while working. The approval of this bill would expand supports and makes college accessible to more homeless and foster students. When I graduated high school, I was housing insecure. I had to work three jobs to make ends meet. No one is immune from financial hardship.
The current college pilot sites are providing a variety of supports. Since it began, hundreds of students have been helped. This bill will double the number of pilots, and help more students throughout Washington.
PRO: This bill will have significant impact for students on both sides of the state. Not having space or privacy when you are homeless creates problems for a student's success. When I first moved out of my mom's house, I couldn't find housing. There were many obstacles to finding housing, such has credit checks. Even housing on campus was unaffordable for me. Books, fees, and other unforeseen expenses created huge financial barriers for me to find stable housing.
From February to December 2020, the pilot sites at the CTCs were able to serve hundreds of students. For the first 11 months, the average cost per student was just a little over $1000. This was made possible through leveraging current funds by the participating CTCs. The value of the program is evident by student testimony.