Support Senate Bill 5702!
I am a student senator at Everett Community College, and one of our focuses for fall quarter was housing insecurity. For a variety of reasons, many students are at risk or have experienced housing insecurity. As a senator, I get to interact with the student body as their peer and be a voice for them. That is how I made many friends who shared their stories with me. One of these students came from the foster care system. She shared with me that growing up no one encouraged her to go to school or finish her education. It was simply not a priority when she needed to survive on her own. Attending EvCC, she was able to find the Youth Reengagement program that helped her engage in her education and provided a support system. That was not enough, though, and she was put in a situation where she needed to choose between her housing and the program that has been her support system for the past year. Fortunately, she was able to move into a new apartment with her boyfriend. My friend was incredibly lucky to have the support of her boyfriend and his parents; many foster care students would have to choose between being homeless or their education.
Students shouldn’t have to worry about whether they have a place to stay every night, and Senate Bill 5702 can help with that. Last week, I was able to testify for this bill during its hearing in the House Appropriations Committee. Senate Bill 5702 focuses on expanding the Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness and Foster Youth pilot programs. If passed, all 34 community and technical colleges may participate in the program to provide assistance to students experiencing homelessness and to students who were in the foster care system when they graduated high school. Support can include providing access to laundry facilities, storage, locker room and shower facilities and reduced-price meals or meal plans, food banks, technology, and short-term housing or housing assistance, especially during seasonal breaks; and case management services.
Worrying about housing affected my friend. She wasn’t able to focus on school and her mental health sunk into unknown depths. Some foster youth age out of the system and are expected to support themselves with no support system and their basic needs unmet. I highly urge everyone to send your written testimony to the legislators of your district. I know my friend did, and the office of the representative replied back with their support for the bill.
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