Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn secured $700,000 of Measure H funds Tuesday to hire and train 22 peer navigators who will be stationed at every community college in Los Angeles County.
“For too long, community college students experiencing homelessness didn’t receive the support they needed because they didn’t fit the preconceived notion of what ‘homeless’ looked like,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “By hiring peer navigators who will help homeless college students overcome stigma, secure housing, and earn their degrees, we will get homeless students out of the shadows and into homes.”
A recent #RealCollege survey conducted by the Hope Center and the California Community College Chancellor’s Office shows that a staggering one in five California Community College students are experiencing homelessness and even more are experiencing food insecurity.
For thousands of community college students in LA County, poverty is a major barrier to academic success. The #RealCollege report states that “housing insecurity and homelessness have a particularly strong, statistically significant relationship with college completion rates, persistence, and credit attainment. Researchers also associate basic needs insecurity with self-reports of poor physical health, symptoms of depression, and higher perceived stress.”
“A 2018 report on student homelessness found that 46% of community college students said they had experienced some form of housing insecurity, and 12% reported being homeless in the past year,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who coauthored the motion. “This important motion will help college students experiencing homelessness achieve housing stability. We already know that this model works: peer navigators with lived experience already help students at ELACC and Rio Hondo connect to housing and services. By expanding this program throughout the County, we can help house students who are learning and seeking a better life for themselves and their families.”
Because so many community college students are experiencing homelessness or extreme poverty for the first time in their lives, they are less likely than older adults to receive public assistance. In fact, only 8% of students experiencing homelessness receive government assistance and only 22% of students experiencing food insecurity receive SNAP.
Peer navigators are fellow students, many of whom have previously experienced homelessness themselves, who will work with homeless students to apply for CalFresh, subsidized housing, mental health services, and other County resources while supporting their academic careers.
The funding committed to hiring and training peer navigators is part of the $460 million Measure H Year 3 budget recommendations approved by the Board of Supervisors toda