The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

El Camino to address student housing crisis

With a total cost of $35 Billion, the Student Services Building first opened on Nov. 1, 2019, for students to have assistance from multiple resources. The Warrior Welcome Center is located on the first floor, along with other services throughout the building including Veteran Services, EOPS, Financial Aid and academic counseling. (Nellie Eloizard | The Union)

As rent continues to rise, homeowners and residents are feeling the impact, but many college students are left struggling to maintain their studies and work during their time throughout college.

Many students facing increasing rent and multiple jobs are seeking more assistance in housing across California because students are left working while being full- or part-time students.

Homeless students usually reside in vehicles, parks, open areas, abandoned buildings, bus or train stations or other locations for temporary shelter.

Many of these circumstances happen due to those who are sharing housing with others because they have lost their own house, experiencing financial hardship or have a similar reason.

El Camino College students who need immediate housing can speak to a Basic Needs Coordinator at the Basic Needs Center located on the second floor of the Bookstore.

Basic needs coordinator Sharonda Barksdale said services such as Metro U-Pass, free clothes through the Warrior Closet, toiletries, free food from the Warrior Pantry and housing assistance became available to all students in July 2022.

“We have seen an increase in the number of students utilizing our services, averaging about 125 to 150 students per day,” Barksdale said.

Basic needs services help since an increase of students see themselves wrapped around the housing crisis due to rent increases and a rise in competition for housing.

As housing becomes more limited, many see themselves worrying about their housing security, due to high expenses.

“We refer students to one of the local agencies that work within LA County, especially those who are trying to do it on their own, juggling life, juggling school, juggling work.

El Camino College basic needs coordinators have significantly seen progress and plan on expanding the program even further, Barksdale said.

Harriet Buhai is a center in Los Angeles used for protecting victims of domestic violence and improving the well-being of children living in poverty. Barksdale said El Camino is working with the center to expand services and outreach to students who need it.

“The ultimate dream of all community colleges is to provide some type of housing to students,” Barksdale said.

El Camino’s current plan

Francesca Bishop, one of El Camino’s Presidential Ambassadors, has been a member of the Student Leadership Institute since the fall of 2022.

Along with other coordinators, she’s working on a project called Warrior Casita, created by a group of five El Camino students who were inspired by the basic requirements of the homeless students on our campus.

“Because we are a family here, we want to support the school in keeping our children and inspiring them to accomplish their objectives,” Bishop said. “Together, we think we can succeed.”

Over 40 employees at El Camino filled out the interest form giving their support on this upcoming project. The Warrior Casita will be a shelter for unhoused students along with services including housing guidance and official overnight housing.

Warrior Casita is in the making for students who need the resources to help them succeed and have a stable journey throughout college.

Jayro Lopez, school relations and student services specialist outreach, is one of the many staff who supported the movement of this new project, with hopes of success.

“I am eager to contribute in any way that I can. I believe this project is a very important because housing is a basic human right that all of our students should have access to if we would like to see them succeed,” Lopez said. “It goes without saying that the lack of housing is a great barrier for student success.”

El Camino is trying to bring housing and conducting a housing study with the possibility of having it near the Child Development Center. It will bring down the number of students who need housing within the college.

“A safe space for any students suffering from home insecurities; a place where they can focus on being a college student and not have to worry about sustaining a roof over their head,” Lopez said.

According to El Camino’s 2021 “Student Campus Climate Survey Report,” 21% of El Camino students work more than 30 hours a week, 10% more than students who work 20 to 29 hours per week.

Overall, 31% of these students who rent felt the impact of rent increases in California, according to the survey.

Plans from local colleges

At Santa Monica College, if students need immediate help, they can call 211 or schedule an appointment with the next available housing specialist.

Sharlyne Massillon is the basic needs project manager at Santa Monica College. In a SMC article, it states “her personal experience taught her how difficult college life can be for students with basic needs.”

Their basic needs section shows a list of resources within the housing program which help with the fear of becoming evicted, housing assistance, emergency shelter, collaborative housing and safe parking, where students can sleep in their car.

Many other colleges including Harbor City College, Pierce College, San Francisco and San Bernardino offer these same housing resources at their colleges.

Orange Coast College and Santa Barbara City College are the only two community colleges from El Camino, Santa Monica, Harbor City, Pierce, San Francisco and San Bernardino colleges that offer on-campus housing to their students.

Orange Coast College offers apartments called the Harbor Coast located in the Swap Meet across from Orange Coast College. After their opening in 2020, students are encouraged to apply for free and one bedroom is limited to each resident.

Santa Barbara offers a variety of dorm-living apartments and other options for living. All applicants are encouraged to be put in a semester before, to guarantee a spot.

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