House passes bill to help homeless college students

Sen. Randall’s bill passes by 57-37 margin

A bill sponsored by Sen. Emily Randall-D, Bremerton, which provides assistance to college students experiencing homelessness, was passed by a state House vote of 57-37 on April 12 in Olympia.

Senate Bill 5800 creates pilot programs at six colleges across Washington state — one four-year and two community and technical colleges on each side of the state. Each institution chosen will provide assistance to students who are homeless and students who were in foster care.

“As a state, we’ve taken important steps to support young students experiencing homelessness while in our K-12 system, but once they get to college, they lose that network,” Randall said.

The bill makes Washington one of only two states in the nation to consider legislation tackling homelessness among college students this year, according to CityLab.

The assistance colleges would provide includes access to short-term housing or housing assistance; laundry facilities, storage and showers; reduced-price meal plans; technology; and case management services. These schools also would be directed to collect data on students experiencing homelessness and having issues buying food to better reveal the scope of the problem and improve the state’s efforts to improve services, Randall said.

The institutions eligible for the pilot program include all six public, four-year colleges and universities in the state, as well as all 34 community and technical colleges. The institutions to participate will be chosen by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and participating four-year colleges by the Washington Student Achievement Council.

Randall’s office said House members added minor amendments to the bill, necessitating that it return to the Senate for reapproval before going to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.