AB 1995 to support homeless student hygiene, education

Bill inspired by first-hand homeless experience

By Denis Perez, Assistant Photo Editor

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Students who are homeless will have access to shower facilities on California community college campuses starting Jan. 1, 2017.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1995 into law on Sept. 21 which was authored by Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara). AB 1995 allows access for any homeless students who are enrolled in coursework, have paid their enrollment fees and are in good standing with the community college district.
Dean of Student Services Vicki Ferguson said AB 1995 is a great opportunity for the Contra Costa College campus to face homeless students’ problems. She said there are programs that aid homeless students but many still face problems.
“We (CCC) can’t ignore these students,” Ferguson said. The college doesn’t know for sure who and how many students are homeless on campus since these students don’t identify naturally, nor is there a system to track them, she said.
Ferguson said the bill allows the district to decide its own regulations, like an age limit and minimum college unit requirement.
She said, “The bill is still at the district level of planning. Right now the three campuses (Los Medanos College, Diablo Valley College and CCC) have to work together to create a plan to implement the bill. It will take a month to have a rough draft.”
After having a plan set, the next task would be to market the service and AB 1995 throughout the district.
Williams said he expects no difficulties implementing this bill because of the support California Community College system offers homeless students who attend their colleges.
Previously, homeless students in PE classes were allowed to use the showers.
“I am a strong believer in the importance of the community colleges and (AB 1995) opens the doors to more people who can benefit from our great educational system,” Williams said.
“I was approached by a member of the community who was a homeless student and felt there was a need to create this legislation. I was homeless while I attended community college in the 1990s,” he said.
Williams said, “It was always a difficult choice between attending classes without showering first or skipping class and putting my education at risk of failure. It is this first-hand experience that inspires this bill.”
Contra Costa Community College District Vice Chancellor for Community and Marketing Paul Feist said in the recent legislative cycle many relevant post-secondary bills passed.
Three separate bills, AB 801 — Success for Homeless Youth in Higher Education Act, AB 1747 — Food Assistance for Higher Education Students, and AB 1228 — Priority Housing for Homeless Youth, were all signed into law.
Williams said all people have obligations to help and uplift one another.
“My bill is part of that greater effort to expand educational opportunities for those who are least fortunate among us,” he said.