Berman Introduces Safe Lot Legislation for Homeless Community College Students

Friday, February 1, 2019

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) has introduced legislation that would allow homeless community college students to sleep in their vehicles overnight in campus parking facilities.

“Over the last two years, I've heard from too many students that they don’t have stable housing and often end up sleeping in their cars. Unfortunately, this is all too common throughout California, with one in four community college students experiencing homelessness,” said Assemblymember Berman. “The long term solution is to build more housing, but while we work to make that a reality, AB 302 is a step that we can take now to ensure that homeless students have a safe place to sleep at night.”

If signed, Assembly Bill 302 would require community colleges to grant overnight access to campus parking facilities to any homeless student that is enrolled in coursework, has paid enrollment fees, and is in good standing with the community college without requiring the student to enroll in additional courses. The bill would further compel each community college district governing board to develop a plan to implement the new requirement.

In 2016, Governor Brown signed AB 1995, requiring community colleges to grant access to campus shower facilities to homeless students who meet the same qualifications.

"As students, we chose to dedicate ourselves to pursuing a better life using education as our primary tool. We sacrifice everything; a growing number of us have even sacrificed our most basic human need, a place to call home. We had to decide if we were going to buy books or pay rent. We chose to stay steadfast in our commitment and follow our dreams,” said James Tompkins, a student at Bakersfield College. “Being a homeless student means lots of coffee to hide the sleepless nights walking or driving aimlessly and having extra deodorant in case you don't make it to campus early enough to shower before class. Being a student and chasing our dreams is worth being homeless."

The Chief Executive Officers of the California Community Colleges established an Affordability, Food & Housing Access Taskforce in spring of 2018 to provide system-wide recommendations to address housing and food insecurities faced daily by community college students. On January 28, 2019 the Taskforce released draft recommendations, which included providing overnight parking to homeless students at California community colleges.

Over the last two years, Assemblymember Berman convened five hearings of the Assembly Select Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education in California, where he and the Select Committee heard powerful testimonies from students who shared experiences of housing insecurity and homelessness.

 

Contact: Kaitlin Curry, (916) 319-2024