Washington State explores new ways to assist homeless college students

Washington State explores new ways to assist homeless college students

WNPA Olympia News Bureau

Two proposed bills could give homeless college students free room and board, reduced-price meals and access to short-term housing during seasonal breaks.

According to a survey of 35 colleges and universities, 36 percent of university students didn’t have consistent access to either food or housing in the last year.

House Bill 1572 would establish a pilot program giving students access to laundry facilities, storage, showers, technology, reduced-price meals and meal plans, and housing assistance during the school year and seasonal holidays. It would apply both to homeless students and those who were in foster care at high school graduation.

Of 33 sponsors, Rep. Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor, is the only Republican on the bill. He said the bill focuses on assisting “margins” of a student’s life, something he gained understanding of when he experienced homelessness during high school and college.

“I had instances when I would alter the way I would sit when I was talking to someone because I felt like my feet smelled. I don’t want students to have to focus on this,” Rep. Young said. “I hope to refocus my caucus on the fact that hey, this doesn’t necessarily have to include greater spending… but can be a lifesaver for a kid.”

House Bill 1278 would require public colleges to provide homeless first-year recipients of College-Bound Scholarship funds for low-income students a one-year waiver for on-campus housing.

Housing would be available on a space-available basis, and provided that housing is not already covered through other aid.

Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, is the bill’s prime sponsor.

He acknowledged the proposed legislation has not yet addressed key issues like determining how many students would be served, whether the schools or state would pay for it, or what the implications are for colleges that don’t provide on-campus housing.

“People are facing adverse challenges, get into college, get a scholarship, but are unable to make that leap… because of their family situations,” Hudgins said.

University of Washington is currently surveying students to determine how many need this kind of support. UW was concerned about students with housing challenges and encouraged the Legislature to provide financial support for the students, according to a spokesperson.

Both bills use the McKinney-Vento Act’s definition of homelessness, which includes individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.

Both HB 1572 and HB 1278 are scheduled for executive sessions in the House College and Workforce Development Committee at 8 a.m. Feb. 8.

More in News

A little parade watcher exchanges a wave with a princess on a float. (Bob Smith | Kitsap News Group)
Summer weather returns just in time for Fathoms parade

Absent for two straight summers, parade watchers soak in the fun and sun

Toddler survives fentanyl overdose; mom arrested

Poulsbo child, 2, is alert; long-term effects unknown

The Planned Parenthood clinic in Bremerton. Courtesy Photo
Bremerton Planned Parenthood vows to provide access

Roe v. Wade overturned by US Supreme Court

The Timber Run sign inside the apartment property. Elisha Meyer/Port Orchard Independent Photos
Rent hike could leave some homeless

Some residents at a Port Orchard apartment complex are scrambling to find… Continue reading

All events back on for Kingston 4th of July

Parade at noon; fireworks at 10 p.m.

A map of the North Kitsap region where many trail segments are being considered for the North Sound to Olympics Trail. Courtesy Graphic
Planning discussed for North Sound to Olympics Trail

Kitsap County Public Works held an open house Wednesday at the Village… Continue reading

Turning 105 is no big deal for Mary DeLaGrange

Port Orchard birthday girl just wants her family to enjoy some cake

Animal Emergency & Specialty Center has expanded its services and is now located at College Marketplace in Poulsbo. Courtesy Photo
Poulsbo animal hospital moves, expands services

Animal Emergency & Specialty Center, formerly known as Animal Emergency & Trauma… Continue reading

The donated concrete floats were towed to the Port of Poulsbo for complete refurbishment and reuse in the new floating breakwater. Courtesy Photo
Construction of new Poulsbo breakwater begins

Will be ready for public by next year

Most Read