Homeless students get a roof over their heads at Cerritos College

A college in California is giving homeless students housing. Cerritos College, located in Norwalk, has just opened new…

A college in California is giving homeless students housing.

Cerritos College, located in Norwalk, has just opened new student housing. Unlike most student residences, this housing development is primarily funded by the school itself, not the students.

The new off-campus development is called The Village. It has 28 beds specifically for homeless students so they can live and study with a roof over their heads.

A 24-year-old student named Kaylah Parard spoke to Inside Higher Ed about what the new residence has done for her life and her studies. She said it helped her to “get [her] life together”:

Once you get that housing situation and you’re not worried about where you’re going to lay your head at night, you can focus on everything else.

Kaylah Parard

The demands of higher education are taxing in their own right. One can only imagine how much more difficult completing a degree would be if you had to first concentrate on where you were going to sleep each night.

Cerritos College’s president, Jose Fierro, concurs:

The main intent of the project is to improve the life of students. If they don’t have a house, even the smartest of students will underperform.

Jose Fierro

The college is partnering with Jovenes Inc. on The Village project. This nonprofit organization in Los Angeles supports homeless youth. According to the Jovenes Inc. website, “1 in 5 community college students in Los Angeles is experiencing homelessness” and “only 2-11% of former foster youth who enroll in LA’s community colleges are able to graduate or transfer, and homelessness is a major barrier.”

Jovenes Inc. already has a program to help college students pay for rent. Now, they are helping with The Village.

Students living in The Village will either pay nothing or pay $200 to $300 each month, depending on need.

With The Village now open to students, Fierro hopes that the development will show other colleges what is possible:

The second intent [of the program] is to create a model that will show it’s possible to have housing that is specifically focused on students that are home insecure without running in the red. We do this by pooling resources together from agencies.

Jose Fierro

If more higher education institutions follow in Cerritos College’s footsteps, we could see a lot more homeless students become students with homes who can flourish and graduate.

Cerritos College

Article sources: Inside Higher Ed, Jovenes Inc., Cerritos College

Featured image source: Cerritos College

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