Bill aims to help homeless community college students

Legislation also would aid foster children who have aged out

  • By Juan Morfin WNPA News Service
  • Friday, January 14, 2022 1:30am
  • News

OLYMPIA — Homeless students at community and technical colleges across the state would get assistance if House Bill 1601 becomes law.

If passed, the bill would provide homeless students and students who age out of the foster care system help with access to laundry storage, shower facilities, locker rooms, food banks, technology, reduced-price meals or meal plans, case management services and short-term housing/housing assistance.

Homelessness “results in people not being able to graduate or go onto a career. It hurts our students, our institutions and our local communities,” Rep. Mari Leavitt, D-University Place, lead sponsor, said during a hearing before the House College and Workforce Development Committee on Tuesday.

Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Port Townsend — who represents the 24th District, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County — is among the sponsors of the bill.

The program would help many homeless and former foster care students for years to come as well as the many businesses that need employees, Leavitt said.

Such assistance is widely available at universities across the state, yet many community and technical colleges do not have the funding to keep pace with the growing need for services, she added.

A pilot program to test its effectiveness was implemented in 2019 and has seen success, according to Leavitt. Participating institutions have seen higher retention rates within their homeless and former foster care populations. South Puget Sound Community College, for example, saw a 76 percent retention rate for students in its program, which gives students fully furnished apartments.

Austin Herrera, a student at South Puget Sound Community College and a former marine who is now disabled, spoke with emotion as he recounted his experience with homelessness.

“I support this bill because it gives students like myself the ability to focus on school instead of having to choose between surviving and studying,” Herrera said.

________

This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.

More in News

Forks reviews 2024 draft budget

Half million in lodging tax requests

Forks Police Department down to one officer

Cities, counties across state struggle in hiring

x
EYE ON THE PENINSULA: Towne Road, budget before county boards

Government meetings across the North Olympic Peninsula

Mini-home resident escapes fire but dog dies

The residents of a backyard mini-home were not injured in… Continue reading

tsr
Firefighters to tour Sequim, Port Angeles with Santa

Donations support toy giveaway in Sequim, food banks in both towns

Pet adoption event today in Port Angeles

The Port Angeles Tractor Supply is hosting pet adoption… Continue reading

Fort Worden PDA approves new business plan

Funding is lacking, but board sees progress

Orange traffic barrels line the sides of U.S. Highway 101 at Ennis Creek for preliminary surveys in preparation for upcoming culvert replacement. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Survey work for fish barrier removal begins in Port Angeles

Some lane closures may be necessary from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Replacement levies on Crescent ballot

Voters to decide measures in February

Sue Ridder and husband Johnny from Vancouver, visiting relatives in Port Townsend, start cleaning some of the 13 Dungeness crab they caught in Port Townsend Bay on Wednesday. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Catch of the day

Sue Ridder and husband Johnny from Vancouver, visiting relatives in Port Townsend,… Continue reading