FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (February 1, 2019) – During an event yesterday at Framingham State University (FSU), Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito highlighted a comprehensive plan to end youth homelessness in the Commonwealth, and announced a new housing pilot to support community college and state university students who are experiencing homelessness. Framingham State University and MassBay are proud to partner on this basic needs initiative, housing a total of five homeless college students between the two institutions. All five students are currently living in the FSU dorms, and the students receive meal plans and other support services by their respective college or university.
“Our students cannot succeed academically and prepare for their future careers if they are burdened with homelessness or are going hungry,” said MassBay President Dr. David Podell. “We are proud to be a part of this pilot program and we hope to expand this to more students who are struggling while earning their college degrees. This is just one many partnerships between MassBay and Framingham State. We are grateful to Governor Baker and Higher Education Commissioner Santiago for their support of the program.”
Across the United States, there are an estimated 1.7 million to 4.2 million unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness. In Massachusetts, it is estimated that there are at least 1,800 young adults every year who experience homelessness. Among unaccompanied homeless youth, students who are enrolled in the state’s colleges and universities represent a population of unique interest and growing concern.
The Baker-Polito Administration’s Massachusetts Student Housing Security Pilot provides dorm rooms to homeless students attending community college. The pilot program launched at the following four campus sites in January 2019 in partnership with local community colleges:
- Bridgewater State University & Massasoit Community College
- Framingham State University & MassBay Community College
- Worcester State University & Quinsigamond Community College
- UMass Lowell & Middlesex Community College
Each of the four-year institutions will provide up to five beds for students experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. To participate students must be:
- enrolled full-time in a public college or university participating in the pilot,
- degree-seeking and in good academic standing as defined by the home institution,
- age 25 or younger, and
- referred by campus staff or a community service provider, or self-applied.
Campuses will be reimbursed by the state for the cost of the dorm bed occupancy for an 18-month period for the remainder of fiscal year 2019 through fiscal year 2020, including all summer and semester breaks. Campuses will cover the cost of providing meals and snacks for students, with support from local service providers where available.
“College life is challenging enough without having to worry about how you will pay for your next meal or where you are going to sleep at night,” said Framingham State University President F. Javier Cevallos. “The new housing security pilot is designed to eliminate this burden for our most vulnerable students so they can focus on earning their degree, which is the key to a financially-secure future.”
Massachusetts developed a plan to address unaccompanied homeless youth which included interviews and focus groups with homeless youth, feedback from state and local provider partners, and data reviews. The six recommendations include:
- Implementing a coordinated statewide response to youth homelessness,
- Expanding the current spectrum of accountable and evidence-informed models of housing and services,
- Enhancing early identification, connection, and outreach systems to assist homeless young people as they transition from high school to college. Liaisons from local school districts and student affairs staff from local campuses held their first convening at the University of Massachusetts Lowell in November, in a bid to share resources and become better equipped to help young people access available resources and support in higher education
- Improving education, employment, and credentialing opportunities in order to support young people’s access to long-term, sustainable employment and income,
- Creating systematic outcome measurement systems and data sharing opportunities, and
- Creating a structure to support authentic youth and young adult involvement statewide.
"The $3 million in funding to 10 community partners throughout the state will help youth and young adults with the supports they need to prevent or end homelessness,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services, and co-chair of the ICHH, Marylou Sudders. “Homeless youth and young adults should have the same opportunities provided to them as others to help them succeed."