State Assembly Committee on Higher Education hears bill aimed at reducing burdens of homelessness at community colleges

Sunny Shen/Staff

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California AB 302, which aims to reduce the burdens of homelessness among California community college students, was heard in the state Assembly Committee on Higher Education on Tuesday.

According to a press release from Assemblymember Marc Berman, D-24, on Tuesday, the bill would require community colleges to grant overnight parking facilities access to any homeless student who is “enrolled in coursework, has paid enrollment fees if not waived, and is in good standing with the community college” without requiring the student to enroll in additional courses on or before July 1, 2020.

Survey results indicate that nearly 400,000 community college students, out of the total California community college population of 2.1 million students, have experienced homelessness in the previous year, according to the press release.

“The reality is that students are sleeping in their vehicles right now, and when we don’t provide a safe place for them to sleep, we force them into the shadows – into dark alleys and industrial parks – where they are most vulnerable,” Berman, who introduced the bill, said in the press release.

Each community college would be responsible for the bill’s implementation, which would include an overnight parking form and liability waiver, designation of specific parking areas, bathroom accessibility, hours of operation and overnight parking rules, according to the press release.

The press release comes shortly after Berkeley City Council decided to create a permitting program for those living in recreational vehicles, or RVs. The City Council’s decision in March to ban RVs from parking on the streets for “extended periods of time” will not go into effect until a permit program is in place.

“We can no longer pretend that community college student homelessness isn’t a crisis – we have the data that clearly says it is,” Berman said in the press release. “Shame on us if we turn our backs on these students and choose to ignore them.”

Contact Maya Akkaraju at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @maya_akkaraju.