In Washington, several bills are in motion that hope to help homeless college students (Image via ABC)

Washington State Has a Plan to Help Homeless College Students

Through a series of proposed bills, Washington lawmakers hope to provide homeless college students stable access to basic amenities.

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Through a series of proposed bills, Washington lawmakers hope to provide homeless college students stable access to basic amenities.

There are two bills currently in Washington state’s Rules Committee that could help homeless college students with basic necessities and, as the Mercer Island Reporter says, allow them to focus on their education.

The first bill, HB 2386, would require Washington’s public colleges to grant a one-year waiver for on-campus housing to all homeless students who receive the College Bound Scholarship, a program that helps low-income families in Washington state.

The second bill, SB 6262, has an additional amendment that would promote renovations of colleges that include showers and lockers on campus for the students to have.

The program would initially start in two community colleges, but the Student Achievement Council wants the program to extend to four-year universities as well.

Senator Ranker (D-Orcas Islands) spoke in support of the SB 6262 after communicating with counselors and homeless college students who find themselves in that position. More than anything, the bill focuses on providing in-need students with stable, consistent access to basic resources. “If we’re going to make sure everyone in our community has the opportunity to go to college, we have to accommodate their needs,” Ranker said.

Even though it has not made it to the Rules Committee at the moment, there is another bill named HB 2854, which would cover housing, meal plans, clothing, showers and laundry costs for these homeless college students until 2023.

Another representative who favors the bill, Mike Sells (D-Everett), said he understands that the most beneficial way to help homeless students focus on their education, rather than their financial difficulty.

The hope is that the two prior bills will pass through committee and there will be a clear start to this pilot program. It is important that these homeless students are given the best treatment and housing, so they can continue their education and be a prominent force in the working world.

Senator Jeannie Darnielle, who proposed the additional amendment to SB 6262, noticed how many students at Bates Technical College did not have adequate housing situations, which ultimately led to them dropping out of school in the long run, and she wanted to curb the pattern.

The program will serve as an incubator for the state. If successful, the state may roll out a larger, more comprehensive version of the concept, an initiative that may catch the notice of other states, several of which have also invested resources in improving the education opportunities of their homeless.

Read more about homelessness in college here.

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Alexandria Johnson

New York University
Journalism and Public Policy

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