Nearly half of California community college students are food insecure, almost three out of five are housing insecure, and about one-quarter are homeless. These are some of the findings from a Community College League of California survey conducted this spring of more than 66,000 students at 88 community colleges in the state.
On a positive note, local, state and college efforts appear to have led to decreases in some areas, according to the accompanying report. Food insecurity rates have dipped since 2019 (from 50% to 47%), likely a result of food pantries, food distribution days and a broader awareness of eligibility for government benefits for food.
Housing, however, remains a challenge, the report says.
“While housing insecurity rates are slightly lower than pre-pandemic, the increases in homelessness signal that students who were previously labeled as housing insecure may have reached a new level of insecurity,” the report says.
The comprehensive survey also gauged needs by students’ demographics, with insecurities highest among African American/Black and American Indian/Alaskan Native students, LGBTQ+ students (notably transgender students), students with criminal records and single parents.
San Diego’s affordable housing efforts
While affordable housing remains a challenge in California, community colleges and their partners continue to work at solutions. For example, the San Diego Community College District this month approved going forward with a potential new partner to develop, design, construct and operate an apartment complex that will provide affordable housing to San Diego City College students.
The district announced it is partnering with developer The Michaels Organization to build a seven- and eight-story 800-unit complex on the City College campus, which is among the first community colleges selected for the state’s Affordable Student Housing Program.
A 2020 survey found that 64% of City College students faced housing insecurity and 20% reported being homeless, according to the district. The housing project would serve students who most need housing, such as low-income, veterans and foster youth. Students living in the complex would also have access to services such as counseling and tutoring.
The project is expected to be completed by early 2028.