Foothill College announced Wednesday new partnerships that the community college hopes will help Santa Clara County achieve an ambitious goal: finding housing for 100 homeless students in the next 100 days.
The Los Altos Hills community college is partnering with the Bill Wilson Center in San Jose and Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County to find homes for students, including through house sharing with local residents.
Foothill is joining the county's "100 Day Challenge," which cities, counties and states across the country are also participating in. Locally, the Bill Wilson Center, San Jose State University, West Valley-Mission Community College District and Airbnb are involved in the effort.
"The high cost of living in the Bay Area is a real barrier to college students successfully completing their studies," April Henderson, Foothill College's director of Extended Opportunities Programs & Services and the college's Foster Youth and Homeless Student Programs, said in an announcement. "These partnerships are just one way for us to serve students facing housing insecurity and get them the services that they need."
According to a survey, 49% of Foothill students experienced housing insecurity and 19% experienced homelessness in the past year. Foothill students said they were doubling up, sharing rooms or moving in with other people due to financial constraints at a higher rate compared to the national rate.
Statewide, nearly 1 in 5 community college students are either homeless or do not have a stable place to live, according to a 2019 survey conducted by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office and The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice.
Student-advocates have been pressing Foothill to address the rise in students experiencing housing insecurity. In response, the community college hosted last June a summit on student homelessness to discuss possible solutions to the housing crisis with students, faculty, administrators, local elected officials, nonprofit leaders and others.
To support students' basic needs, Foothill offers a campus food pantry (which serves about 100 students every week), free and low-cost health services and a $15,000 scholarship for homeless or housing-insecure students to transfer to a four-year university.
Foothill encouraged students who need housing services from the Bill Wilson Center and Catholic Charities to contact Henderson at AboutHousing@fhda.edu. Students can also self-refer to Bill Wilson Center by filling out an online form.
The Bill Wilson Center also offers meals, showers, laundry, transitional housing programs, counseling and one-time funding for young people between the ages of 18 and 24 years old who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and don't have the financial means to find housing, among other services.
Local residents who have an available room in their home can also apply to host a student through Catholic Charities' house-sharing program. The nonprofit screens and matches applicants through background checks, preference checklists and personality profiles.
Interested community members can learn more at an information session hosted by Foothill on Wednesday, Feb. 19, or call Catholic Charities directly at 408-325-5134.