Delaware lawmakers are attempting to tackle housing insecurity among college students through new legislation. In a statement, House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst explained that the state’s challenges in student accommodation need to be addressed and relief will come through this proposal.
“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,” Longhurst said.
WMDT reported that under House Bill 240, the state can create an emergency housing assistance fund to benefit undergraduate students in its public university system.
Delaware State University (DSU) would be among the institutions that would like to see this bill passed into law. DSU President Dr. Tony Allen shared that in the past years, the school has assisted almost half of its student population with housing to help them earn a degree.
“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,” he added.
If the bill is approved, the Delaware State Housing Authority would be required to provide around $90,000 in the fiscal year of 2022. There is a scheduled hearing for HB 240 in the House Administration Committee this week, and Dr. Allen shared that he has plans to testify so students will be ensured a roof over their heads for future academic years.
“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,” remarked Dr. Allen. “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.”