The board of the Philadelphia Housing Authority last Thursday approves a pilot program to provide housing for homeless students at Community College of Philadelphia. The arrangement gives special attention to students who have aged out of foster care.
The agreement would give low-rent housing to 16 students at the college who don’t have a stable place to live.
In a CCP survey, 13% of respondents said they had experienced homelessness at some point. This included instances of CCP students living in shelters, squatting in unattended buildings and living in cars.
PHA President Kelvin Jeremiah said the authority would provide a dorm-like arrangement, with separate bedrooms and common living areas, at two properties on 10th and 11th streets, just north of Spring Garden Street.
“This is a program that allows them to focus on their education and not worry about things like, ‘Where am I going to sleep? Whose couch am I going to be sleeping on tonight?'” said Jeremiah.
“We want to make sure that we are supporting these kids in every way possible, so that they will in fact succeed. This is just one part of that process.”
Between the ages of 9 and 18, Natasha Fletcher lived in 40 different foster homes. Then, when she turned 18 and aged out of the system, there was nowhere to turn.
“To come out without any family in the vicinity near me or anything of my own, that is hard," Fletcher admits.
"Who do you run to? Who do you run to, to be able to ask for help?"
Now 34, Fletcher is a sophomore at CCP, studying behavioral health. She works as a school district classroom aide while she studies. She says a program like this, which provides some stability, would have been invaluable when she was younger.
"How do you develop these relationships if you don’t have stability?" she asks. "That’s something that I struggle with to this day, and it makes it hard to build bonds and relationships.”
The community college would refer students for the program, which will be operated by SELF Inc. It could be in place for the fall semester.