Story by Richard Contreras
The Associated Student Government of Palomar College (ASG) presented an informative report proposing an overnight parking program to help address student housing insecurity and homelessness at the Governing Board meeting on May 14.
ASG Vice President of Shared Governance, Anthony White, authored and presented the report at the meeting. The proposal called for creating a culture that destigmatizes asking for help, creating an office for basic-needs support, and establishing an overnight parking lot so housing-insecure students have somewhere safe to sleep at night.
“As a homeless student during my time with MiraCosta, I didn’t know where I could turn to for help,” White said, calling for a centralized office where students can be directed for basic needs support services.
The proposed support office would be an all-in-one place for basic needs support and associated resource management. Counselors at this building would be able to help students overcome need-based obstacles to their education and refer students to off-campus support through local, state, and federal programs.
The ASG reports that there has been increased focus within the state on the basic needs of California Community College students.
Earlier this year, California Assemblymember
Marc Berman proposed Assembly Bill 305 which would require community colleges to establish overnight parking areas for use by enrolled homeless students by July 1, 2020.
Palomar College President/Superintendent, Joi Lin Blake said that the District will soon be looking at the financial analysis of moving forward with on-campus housing for students and faculty. While the campus housing initiative is still in its early stages, the ASG advocated for Palomar officials to provide resources for the estimated five percent of housing insecure students currently attending the college.
Blake said she is exploring what can be done in the immediate future to support students who have emergency housing needs. Governing Board Vice President, John Halcón, expressed support for moving forward with the issue of basic needs support.
“This is one of those ‘yes’ and ‘now’ situations. We need to step up. We need to be able to say we are doing something to support our students who find it difficult to find a safe and secure place to do simple things like go to the bathroom, take a shower and sleep,” Halcón said.
The ASG proposal urges Palomar College officials to take action to establish an overnight parking lot by the 2019 fall semester.