TCC’s homeless student population and those struggling to find affordable housing will have access to substantial help this fall, when the college starts taking applications for the “Tacoma Community College Housing Project.”
A new partnership with the Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) provides $150,000 per year, and a contract the college can renew every year through 2018, to fund housing vouchers for students enrolled full time at TCC. Voucher amounts will be based on family size.
Application and disbursal dates are yet to be determined, but the current goal is to begin voucher distribution in January 2014.
Vice President for Student Services Mary Chikwinya has been working out the partnership agreement with THA representative Michael Powers since THA approached college staff about a possible partnership. THA has a similar program at McCarver Elementary School.
“They have a successful project implemented in the Tacoma School district K-12 system, and we would be their first college,” said Chikwinya.
TCC’s new Dean of Counseling and Advising, Shema Hanebutte, will take the lead in launching the project along with project team members Val Robertson, Kim Smith, Kathy Brown and Dolores Haugen.
“Eligibility will be based on Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rules and TCCs satisfactory academic progress standards,” said Hanebutte. “TCC will do the triage, application vetting, and we will run workshops with the Metropolitan Development Council – they will provide the mandatory Financial Literacy workshops with staff they already have located on our campus.”
The partnership plans to make the Financial Literacy workshops available via podcast for the entire student body.
The eligibility requirements are still being negotiated, but students must:
- show financial need
- be enrolled in school full time
- have no felonies
Though the program hasn’t officially started, it’s already garnered media attention. Student Carolyn Jones, who plans to apply for the program, did an interviewwith King 5 last week, explaining some of the special challenges homeless students face.
“We are very excited about this new partnership with the Tacoma Housing Authority,” said Chikwinya. “ This innovative approach to providing housing assistance will assist members of our community in reaching their academic goals and help families to become self-sufficient.”