SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - San Jose State University is taking a major step to combat student homelessness and housing insecurity. Officials say nearly 200 of its students struggled with housing insecurity and homelessness last academic year.
“It’s definitely a problem and it’s growing. It’s getting worse and worse each year,” said Sociology major Lana Gomez, a member of the school’s Student Homeless Alliance.
At a news conference on Wednesday just south of the campus, city, school, and corporate leaders announced a first of its kind partnership aimed at eliminating student homelessness.
“College students should be worried about their final exams and not where they’re going to sleep each night,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo.
A pilot program funded by a $250,000 state grant pays for struggling students to stay in Airbnb host homes. Their stays can range from days to months. The Bill Wilson Center for Youth Services will then work to identify long-term solutions to their housing needs.
“It’s incumbent on tech companies to take responsibility and to find ways where they can use their technology to have a positive impact on the broader communities that they’re operating in,” said Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s senior vice president for Global Strategy and Communications.
The program is slated to run for 100 days, although proponents say they expect additional funding from the state if needed. The looming question though, what happens after the pilot ends?
“We like this 100-day challenge because it’s focused on pulling community partners together. But we understand we have a long-term challenge that’s not going anywhere,” said Patrick Day, San Jose State University vice president for student affairs.
He said the school is exploring other options that could serve as a bridge to long-term housing. Some students who champion the plight of fellow classmates struggling with housing insecurity applaud the pilot program.
“It’s a complex issue and there’s a lot of different ways we can go about solving this problem. So I think starting a pilot program and trying anything is definitely moving in the right direction,” said Diana Rendler, the secretary for the SJSU Student Homeless Alliance.
Officials say students in need can apply for assessment for entry into this new program immediately.