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March 13, 2019 Ryan Brown
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(San Jose, Calif.) — According to a new report released by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office and The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, 7 in 10 students responding to the survey experienced food insecurity or housing insecurity or homelessness during the previous year.
The California Community College #RealCollege Survey evaluated access to affordable food and housing at 57 schools in the California Community College system in the fall of 2016 and 2018.
The #RealCollege Survey finds stark variation across regions with food insecurity at California community colleges ranging from 38 percent to 59 percent across regions while rates of homelessness vary by region from approximately 15 percent to 24 percent. In the Bay Area region, survey findings indicate that 20 percent of community college students reported being homeless during the previous year while 59 percent dealt with housing insecurity and 43 percent with food insecurity. Housing insecurity includes a broad set of challenges, such as the ability to pay rent or utilities or the need to move frequently, while food insecurity is the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food.
"These survey results confirm what we have long known anecdotally," said Dr. Byron D. Clift Breland, chancellor of San Jose – Evergreen Community College District. "Many of our students are struggling with these serious issues, which adversely impacts their ability to succeed academically. We must take action—collectively and as individual colleges and districts—to address these vital needs."
There are also sizable racial/ethnic disparities in basic needs insecurity among California community college students. The report highlights rates of food insecurity among students identifying as African American or Black, American Indian, or Alaskan Native exceeding 60 percent—a rate 10 percentage points higher than rates for Hispanic or Latinx students, and almost 20 percentage points higher than rates for students identifying as White or Caucasian.
"California Community College trustees are committed to identifying multi-pronged, targeted approaches to the housing, food, and affordability challenges confronting our students," said Trustee Jim Moreno, Chair of the California Community College League Board and Trustee at Coast Community College District.
The #RealCollege Survey highlights the need for financial aid reform at the community college level, one of the recommendations put forward by the Community College League of California's Affordability, Food & Housing Access Taskforce. The Taskforce is supporting Senate Bill 291 introduced by state Sen. Connie M. Levya (D-Chino), a bill sponsored by the California Community College Board of Governors and co-sponsored by the Community College League of California, which would establish a California Community College Student Financial Aid program that would base aid on the total cost of attendance, including housing, transportation and textbooks.
In a joint statement, Affordability, Food & Housing Access Taskforce chairs Pam Luster, president of San Diego Mesa College and Keith Curry, president of Compton College said, "We are proud to collaborate with college leaders statewide who are proactively engaged in discussions and interventions to alleviate the basic needs insecurities that affect our students. Our work is far from over, but as a coalition, we know we can find real solutions."
The Affordability, Food & Housing Access Taskforce has also announced the launch of the #RealCollegeCalifornia network. The inaugural #RealCollegeCalifornia will serve as a coalition of colleges that share best practices focused on meeting students' basic needs which will receive strategic planning support from the Hope Center.
Learn more about the work of the Community College League of California Affordability, Food & Housing Taskforce at www.ccleague.org/affordability-taskforce.
To read the full report visit: https://hope4college.com/reports/
About San José – Evergreen Community College District
Located in vibrant downtown San José in the heart of Silicon Valley, the San José – Evergreen Community College District (SJECCD) encompasses more than 300 square miles, including a large portion of the City of San José and all of the City of Milpitas. The District includes the areas served by Milpitas and San José Unified School Districts, together with East Side Union High School District. SJECCD is comprised of: Evergreen Valley College, established in 1975; San José City College, the first community college in Santa Clara County, established in 1921; the Community College Center for Economic Mobility (previously known as the Workforce Institute), established in 1988, and the San José – Evergreen Community College Extension at Milpitas, established in 2016. For more information, visit www.sjeccd.edu.