live / 2020

Open Spaces

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Los Angeles Room & Board

This grant will support our Open Spaces project, allowing us to sponsor 50 community college students with a stable place to live, learn, and grow. Open Spaces fosters partnerships with college student housing programs to reimagine the use of their vacant dorm rooms to provide stability to community college students experiencing housing insecurity. Supportive programs such as academic mentorship, tutoring, and job readiness will get students to self-sufficiency, and equip them with tools for success both inside and outside of the classroom.

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Pilot project or new program

What is the need you’re responding to?

1 in 5 of LA’s community college students are facing housing insecurity & homelessness. The cost of living in LA, lack of affordable housing, and insufficient financial aid that’s $7000 short in covering living expenses, has pushed vulnerable students out of college. Take Anna for example, a first-generation freshman who’d come to campus carrying with her the hopes & dreams of her family. Two-thirds into the semester, her professor noticed a pattern of absences and, out of concern, contacted my office. Anna had been living between a friend’s couch and a homeless shelter. I connected her to emergency resources, but it was too late. Anna failed all of her courses and lost her financial aid. As a result, Anna dropped out this semester. This is the outcome we’re hoping to prevent. We must get our students from couch surfing & living in cars to housing stability, thriving in college & graduation.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?

Our strategy is focused on maximizing efficiency on college campuses. Many dorms operate at less than 100% occupancy, leaving hundreds of rooms vacant each year. We’ll enter into agreements with colleges to reimagine the use of their open spaces to house community college students experiencing homelessness. In LA, students are often unable to access city/county resources, and shelters lack capacity. Our unique model could rapidly scale; and our interventions are evidence-based & student-centered. Our team has the expertise to execute this strategy. Sam Prater has 13 years experience as a college housing professional; he will guide the development of residential communities to meet academic & personal goals of students in spaces we operate. Andres Cantero is a real estate attorney with skillful negotiation experience with campuses & property owners. Our approach has gained traction; we’ve secured a partnership with LA Community College District to pilot this program with their students.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?

Direct impact

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

One of the broader impacts of our proposal is in the local economy. The California Budget & Policy Center forecasts a deficit of 1 million college-educated workers by 2030. We understand that failure to end student homelessness & promote community college completion will not only impact individuals & families, but also the economic vitality of our region, especially poor communities. We will address this deficit by ensuring the 20% of community college students facing homelessness & housing insecurity have their basic needs met, thus allowing students to focus on graduating. This ensures they won’t need this kind of support in the future since a college degree is related to success in the job market. LA’s vitality depends on local talent.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

The success indicators for this program will be measured against these three primary goals:

1) To provide housing for at least 50 students experiencing homelessness & housing insecurity. 2) To equip students with the tools to gain self-sufficiency. 3) To set students up with academic support and resources needed to stay in college.

We envision our project’s success by achieving these goals:

a.) Collaborating with local community college staff persons tasked with administering basic needs services to connect their students in need to the support LARNB provides. We will house 50 students for the 2020-2021 academic school year through these outreach efforts; b) Teaching life & social skills that empower students to make sound interpersonal and career choices that will enable them to secure permanent housing upon completion of the program; c) Connecting students to available resources on their college campus and within the community to support their social, emotional, health and wellness needs; and d) Tracking each student’s progress including enrollment record (e.g., GPA) and degree progress and development of academic plans for each semester.

To measure the success of our program’s goals and aims, student participants will complete a pre- and post-assessment evaluation to obtain data that includes, current housing status, readiness for self-sufficiency, GPA, retention from one semester to the next, etc. These assessments will guide LARNB’s supportive services to students, track their individual growth, and our overall impact. We will know our project is successful when we can offer viable & affordable housing options for students with programming which builds life skills that promote financial planning and security, academic mentorship in support of a career, and interpersonal skills to navigate life’s challenges. Success is realized when we give students like Anna the tools to live out their full potential.

Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Food insecurity
  • Housing affordability
  • Homelessness

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?

  • LA is the best place to LEARN

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?

  • Access to the LA2050 community
  • Host public events or gatherings
  • Communications support
  • Office space for meetings, events, or for staff
  • Capacity, including staff
  • Strategy assistance and implementation