The Center for Equitable Higher Education will host a webinar on Thursday, March 9, to give an overview of the College-Focused Rapid Rehousing program, a state-funded program to reduce homelessness among the student body.
According to a 2018 CSU Study of Student Basic Needs, 10.9% of students in the CSU system experienced homelessness at some point in the last 12 months.
Rashida Crutchfield is the Director of the Center for Equitable Higher Education and is a professor at the school of social work at Long Beach State. Her doctoral dissertation was done on the subject of college students facing homelessness.
“It’s a three-year evaluation and the webinar is allowing us to provide some early learning from the evaluation process,” Crutchfield said.
Rapid rehousing is designed to take individuals and families out of homelessness and transition them into permanent housing as quickly as possible, providing short-term rental assistance and move-in costs.
The funding for the program comes from Assembly Bill 74-RRH, providing funds for six to eight campuses in the CSU system.
Each campus involved runs the program differently. CSULB housing is acquired through a company called Jovenes Incorporated. Together through the basic needs program, they provide accommodation for students experiencing homelessness, whether it be a room in a shared house or a small apartment.
According to Crutchfield, Jovenes either leases property they already own or leases other properties around Long Beach and subleases them to students.
Rent assistance is available to students experiencing homelessness or living in unsafe conditions and those set up with housing through the program.
“They must be living in their car, couch surfing with a friend, in a shelter, or living somewhere not designed to be habitable like a storage unit,” said Danielle Muñoz, director of the CSULB student basic needs program.
Students who apply are expected to be already working or finding employment, as they will have to pay a portion of the rent for the housing they receive.
“There is an immediate expectation that you will start paying rent,” Muñoz said.
According to Muñoz, once students are accepted into the program, they are in emergency or bridge housing, such as with a friend or family. If they are not housed when they apply, Jovenes has beds for bridge housing that they can be moved into temporarily.
They will then be assigned a case worker who will assist in their transition into their new living situation.
“The benefit of going with a community program is that they are already staffed with social workers who know the landscape of the housing world,” Muñoz said
The eventual goal for the participants is to be in permanent housing independently. Between 2020 and 2022, 357 students enrolled in the program, with 57 students from CSULB.
There are also opportunities for all students to get involved and help their classmates. Cal State Long Beach has a roommate channel on the CSULB app that can connect students with available space to rent to other students.