Allan Hancock College is working to help students seeking housing by utilizing an online listing for rental properties, among other efforts.
The listings, found here, can be for homes, apartments, studios and rooms available for rent.
Though the website existed before, Jannet Rios Leon, the Basic Needs Center supervisor at Allan Hancock College, wanted to promote the resource even more in order to reach more people in the community. She said the feedback has been positive with lots of support from the community and local organizations advocating for reasonable housing costs in the area.
“Why not get this conversation started since it is happening around our community already?” Leon said.
The Basic Needs Center offers a range of services to students, from book vouchers and applications for the CalFresh program to access to technology and work with other organizations to provide mental health support. The center opened about two years ago at Hancock and now is required at all 116 community colleges in California.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the center saw an increase in the need for housing resources, in addition to other basic needs, according to Leon.
“We saw a lot of housing insecurity skyrocket, and so there is a need on college campuses to help students address their basic necessities to help them thrive beyond academics,” Leon said.
Leon said it is assumed that community college students live at home, and community colleges traditionally do not have residential halls. Therefore, community college students are often overlooked in the conversation about the lack of affordable housing in California.
“Our students don’t have access to campus housing, and that’s definitely something that has been pushed at the state level,” Leon said. “But it’s definitely a work in progress. So, in the meantime, it’s up to us at each college to help our students find stable housing.”
Leon said Hancock is partnering with organizations including Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley and Good Samaritan to temporarily house students in shelters while they are connected to case workers who will assist them in finding job opportunities and options for low-income housing.
However, the shelters allow stays of up to 90 days, leaving a level of uncertainty for students.
According to Leon, landlords in the area are apprehensive when renting to students because they believe they will not be able to make the rent payment. However, the college can assist the students and be a reference on a housing application.
“Our hope is that if they [landlords] know they’re serving a college student, they may be more flexible, but also knowing that the student is not alone,” Leon said. “If the student does go through our center and is connected with community resources, we will work with the student to help them build income.
“It’s a challenging time right now, and so here at Hancock, we’re really trying to help students access those resources.
“It’s OK to ask for help.”
To submit a rental listing online, visit https://bit.ly/ahchousing.
To learn more about the Basic Needs Center, visit https://www.hancockcollege.edu/basicneeds.
Santa Barbara City College’s Office of Student Life resources to find housing as well as a list for students who are looking for roommates or housing.
Students can visit the Santa Barbara City College housing website at sbcc.edu/housing.
The list for students seeking a roommate can be found here https://sbcc.edu/housinglist/.