SALEM Ore. (KPTV) – A $500,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Human Services will pay the rent for 25 houseless college students for a year by way of a local nonprofit, the ODHS announced Thursday.
The money will go to College Housing Northwest’s program Affordable Rents for College Students, which works with youth support organizations and local colleges to help unhoused students succeed.
The ODHS said that unhoused youth often face both the long wait lists for housing vouchers and bias from landlords who view them as less reliable than adults, further limiting their access to housing.
SEE ALSO: Portland City Council passes resolution to create school zone near Cleveland High School
Each recipient of the rent funding will also receive case management services through New Avenues for Youth and Native American Youth Association to support them and help them connect with other services they need.
One student attending Portland Community College, with support from the ARCS program, said she wouldn’t have been able to stay in school and work toward her goal of becoming a social worker without the help.
“Housing insecurity has made it terribly challenging to focus on school,” the student said. “It’s hard juggling school in addition to the regular struggles in life. When basic needs like housing become insecure it’s like juggling on a tight rope, if you lose your balance it all comes crashing down.”
Mike Savara with the Housing Stabilization Division at Oregon Housing and Community Services said college students aren’t who people often think of when they think of homelessness.
“This failure to see these young people results in broken dreams and a lifelong battle to stay permanently housed,” Savara said. “Directing resources to help create pathways that help young people out of homelessness will lead to increased educational achievement and improved health outcomes.”
SEE ALSO: Washington County responds to homeless camp concerns in Aloha
Jana McLellan, director of the ODHS Self-Sufficiency Programs, said the partnership between ODHS and College Housing Northwest’s ARCS program is a necessary step toward intentional, youth-specific housing assistance.
“We all have an interest in a community in which young people have access to stable and safe housing so that they can pursue their life’s goals and reach their full potential,” McLellan said. “When we do this we will give them the stability and safety they need to learn and grow and help our community thrive.”
Copyright 2022 KPTV-KPDX. All rights reserved.