Del. lawmakers aim to tackle housing insecurity for college, university students
DOVER, Del. – Lawmakers are hoping to tackle the issue of housing insecurity among college students. “No student should ever feel the burden of financial stress from emergencies that affect their ability to attend classes. The issue of housing insecurity in college is real, and HB 240 addresses it head-on,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst in a statement.
House Bill 240 would create an emergency housing assistance fund for undergraduate students in the state. Delaware State University is a strong supporter of the bill. DSU President Dr. Tony Allen says over the past few years, they have provided assistance to roughly 41% of their students. “What we’re trying to do is remove the hurdles and the barriers so we can get them across that stage, and they can go into whatever discipline that we’ve educated them. They can not only be exceptional professionals, but even more importantly they can be exceptional citizens,” said Dr. Allen.
Dr. Allen says during the pandemic, housing was one of the main challenges that they faced. “At the start of the pandemic, while we sent most of our students home, we kept 200 on campus. Think of those 200 as significantly housing insecure, and probably a proxy for many more students, which is one of the reasons we wanted to get as many students as possible back on campus,” said Dr. Allen. “I think it exposed a need, not just at Delaware State, but at many colleges and universities across the country.”
That’s why Dr. Allen says going forward, he wants to make sure students have a roof to study under – pandemic or not. “Some of them don’t come from communities where they have that kind of support. Some of them can’t meet their financial obligations as a result. But to know that we can use this particular pot of funds to really address a specific issue that might not immediately become aware to us – I think it’s going to be a gamechanger,” said Dr. Allen.
If the bill passes, the Delaware State Housing Authority would have to give out about $90,000 to start with in Fiscal Year 2022. HB 240 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Administration Committee on Wednesday. Dr. Allen says he plans to be there to testify.