House Bill 240, sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst and Sen. Nicole Poore, would create the Korey Thompson Student Emergency Housing Assistance Fund to provide housing assistance to undergraduate students attending a college or university in Delaware who are experiencing homelessness.
Surveys have found that 10% of University Delaware students and 13% of Delaware Technical Community College have experienced homelessness at some point, while Delaware State University has provided assistance to thousands of housing insecure students in recent years. Korey Thompson, for whom the bill is named, struggled with the issue while attending Wesley College. Today, he is a New Castle County Police Officer.
Under HB 240, the Delaware State Housing Authority would monitor all money deposited in the fund, including administering $90,000 of appropriated funds for fiscal 2022. DSHA also 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||House Passed 40-1. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick||Briggs King|
|Poore, Sturgeon, Lockman, Pinkney, Sokola, Townsend||Senate Passed 21-0. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Bonini Hocker Lawson Lopez Pettyjohn Richardson Wilson||None|
|Current Status —||Sent to Governor|
“The last thing college students should have to worry about is where they can safely rest their heads at night. They should be focused on studying, and getting their school work done,” said Rep. Longhurst. “The bottom line is housing needs can affect students’ success in college. Korey Thompson is a rare success story that could have easily become a statistic. HB 240 is the first step to addressing the housing insecurity crisis among college students in our state, ensuring more success stories.”
“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,” Sen. Poore said. “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.”