A new policy brief released by NextGen Policy, a social justice advocacy organization, and Compton College upholds the college as a model for how other California community colleges can address food and housing insecurity on their campuses.
The brief, released Tuesday, outlines a variety of ways Compton College has sought to ensure students have access to food and housing, including having students fill out a single form to convey all their needs rather than requiring them to go to multiple offices for help, and employing a director of student basic needs and success.
Compton College also partnered with the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, a community organization in South Los Angeles, to start a program offering monthly rental subsidies to students between September 2020 and January 2022. Before getting the subsidies, 42.9 percent of the students in the program reported being homeless at some point in the past year. After students received aid, the percentage of those students experiencing homelessness fell to 29.4 percent.
Among other supports, the college also increased the number of students participating in CalFresh, the food benefits program for low-income Californians, by 10 percent through a data-sharing agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Public and Social Services. The agreement enables the department to contact consenting students interested in the program.
“By taking a comprehensive, data-driven approach, while also listening to our students to learn precisely what they need, we can assist in their success,” Keith Curry, president and CEO of Compton College, said in a press release. “Students cannot pursue their education successfully if they are worrying about their next meal or wondering where they will sleep each night.”
The brief includes recommendations for other colleges, including disaggregating student data by race and gender to assess student support needs, identifying and advocating for federal and state funding to address student basic needs, and prioritizing basic needs in campus budgeting processes.
“Effective student support programs must always consider meeting each student’s basic needs, including: the cost of food, housing, transportation, institutional debt and affordable access to the Internet,” Arnold Sowell Jr., executive director of NextGen Policy, said in the release. “And, without question, resources that support student basic needs helps to ensure that all California students thrive academically.”