A new bill filed by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst last week will provide emergency financial assistance for college students attending university in Delaware. To start, House 240 will establish the Korey Thompson Student Emergency Housing Assistance Fund, which will contain $90,000.00.
Under the bill, the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) would monitor all money deposited in the fund, including administering $90,000 of appropriated funds for fiscal 2022. DSHA would develop the eligibility criteria, and an application process that would be exclusive to students attending school in the state.
The Fund is named after former Wesley College student named Korey Thompson. Today, he is a New Castle County Police Officer, which is how he met Rep. Longhurst and shared his story and the larger issue with her.
“My grandmother passed during my junior year of college and that’s when everything started to go downhill,” said Officer Thompson, who stayed with his grandmother during school breaks and summer. “From almost experiencing homelessness to graduating from college with a degree in psychology, joining the military in 2016, and then just completing my master’s degree in 2021. I would have never accomplished these things without help.”
In 2020, the National Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice assessed the basic needs of 200,000 students from 130 two-year colleges and 72 four-year colleges and universities. The center determined 48% were affected by housing insecurity and 14% were affected by homelessness.
In 2018, the Hope Center surveyed 1,741 University of Delaware students and determined that 25% were affected by housing insecurity, and 10% were affected by homelessness. In 2017, Delaware Tech surveyed 670 students and determined that 13% were affected by homelessness at some point during the previous year, and 5.7% were affected by homelessness in the 30 days prior to the survey. Since March 2020, 395 students at Delaware Technical Community College have requested emergency support to help with or prevent homelessness.
In recent years, Delaware State University provided some form of assistance to more than 2,000 students, which is 41% of the school’s population. Housing insecurity was one of the main challenges that reemerged during the pandemic.
|House 240 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Longhurst, K.Williams, Chukwuocha, Griffith, Heffernan, K.Johnson, Lambert, Micthell, S.Moore, Wilson-Anton|
|Poore, Sturgeon, Lockman, Pinkney, Sokola, Townsend|
|Current Status — House Administration 6/3/21|
“It costs about $7,000 per student for housing, and I’m working to create a steady funding stream to make sure there’s enough for this population of students,” said Rep. Longhurst, prime bill sponsor. “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.”
“College students are particularly vulnerable to homelessness, often because these young people struggle to manage the high costs of tuition, books, food, childcare and housing – expenses they may be facing for the first time in their life,” said Sen. Nicole Poore, the Senate prime sponsor of HB 240. “Not every student has a family they can turn to for help, but collectively we can help support these bright young people as they work to get back on their feet while they continue their education.”
“Delaware State University has a long history of working with homeless students, young people who have phased out of foster care, and students with housing insecurities. At the height of the pandemic, we found ways to keep 200 students safely on campus who simply had no place else to go,” said Delaware State University President Tony Allen. “The more resources we can access, the more effective we can be at helping our most vulnerable students change their life trajectories. We support it wholeheartedly, not just as the right thing to do, but as a profitable investment in our future.”
HB 240 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Administration Committee on Wednesday.