American River College may see one more resource for students struggling with homelessness as a proposed bill would require California community colleges to provide spaces for students to sleep overnight in their vehicles on campus.
Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), proposed Assembly Bill 302 on Jan. 29.
According to the bill, “the governing board of the community college district shall grant overnight access to those facilities to any homeless student who is enrolled in coursework, has paid enrollment fees, and is in good standing with the community college district without requiring the student to enroll in additional courses.”
In a press release on Feb. 1, Berman said that the long-term solution would be to address the housing problem in California directly by building more housing, but for now AB 302 would provide homeless students with a safe place to sleep.
“Over the last two years, I’ve heard from too many students that they don’t have stable housing and often end up sleeping in their cars,” Berman said. “Unfortunately, this is all too common throughout California, with one in four community college students experiencing homelessness.”
Existing state law allows the governing board of a community college to use college facilities for specific purposes, like allowing homeless students access to showers.
While ARC and the Los Rios Community College District are aware of the struggles students face, they have yet to take a stance on the proposed bill, according to Los Rios’ Associate Vice Chancellor Gabe Ross, who addressed AB 302 in an email to the Current.
“Since the bill is so new, our district hasn’t taken a formal position on the proposed legislation at this point as we don’t yet know enough about the details of implementation,” he wrote.
Still, Ross said the district does already offer other resources to students who struggle financially , including “CalWORKs programs on each campus, food pantries and other programs built to address food insecurity.”
The district also “offers scholarship opportunities through the Los Rios Foundation student emergency fund” and financial support through the Los Rios Promise program for students who struggle with tuition, he said.
“That said, housing insecurity and homelessness are obviously very serious issues that many of our students are struggling with,” Ross wrote. “We are glad to see such a concerted effort around the state, and by local leaders here in Sacramento, to tackle this complicated and challenging issue.”