PCC joins pilot program to address student homelessness, which is expanding this fall
Photos and Story by James Hill
Far too many college students begin their year with a deep anxiety about having shelter and enough money to purchase groceries or pay their heating bill.
More than 52% of students across 17 Oregon community colleges reported being housing insecure during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a national survey by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice.
To address these issues Portland Community College, Portland State University, Mt. Hood Community College and the nonprofits College Housing Northwest (CHNW) and New Avenues for Youth created a pilot program called Affordable Rents for College Students (ARCS).
This collaborative effort provides subsidized housing, a streamlined application process, and a highly supportive environment focused on student success.
The program currently has 18 students enrolled, 67% of whom are the first in their family to attend college; 39% are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Nearly half of the students surveyed said they would not have enrolled in classes without receiving housing through the ARCS program. CHNW has subsidized 50% of these students’ rents.
ARCS recently received $280,000 in state support, thanks to the backing of State Senator Chris Gorsek. This assistance will help the program expand this fall and assist dozens more students access safe housing while they work toward a secure future.
“This is just a start to what I hope will be a much longer effort to create long-term and affordable housing for our students,” Gorsek said.
Amanda Ward, who is attending both PCC and PSU, believes the ARCS program is providing hope to countless college students.“The most important thing is that I’m going to contribute to society in meaningful ways because I finally have access to safe and stable housing,” Ward stated. “The solution is very possible.”
ARCS is raising funds to help even more students secure stable housing at its website or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.