County Vows to House 100 College Students in 100 Days

For Elijah Deliz, the hardest part about enrolling in college was figuring out what address to list on the registration forms. “If homelessness 101 were a college course,” he quipped, “I would have already passed it.”

The 22-year-old Mission College scholar shared his story earlier this week to call attention to a new Santa Clara County-wide initiative to house 100 homeless college students in as many days. West Valley-Mission Community College Chancellor Brad Davis, county Supervisor Susan Ellenberg and the Bill Wilson Center CEO Sparky Harlan joined Deliz at a press conference Monday to announce the campaign.

“The idea was to have something tangible and measurable to accomplish in 100 days,” said Ellenberg, who offered to rent out a spare room in her home as part of the effort.

The 100-student, 100-day pledge coincides with the publication of a biennial survey by the Bill Wilson Center—a nonprofit service provider for at-risk youth—which found that 22 percent of the region’s homeless teen and young adult population attend college. That’s up from 18 percent two years prior.

“We think education is the way out of homelessness and poverty in our county,” Harlan said. “But these students have nowhere to live.”

While local colleges may track those statistics on their own, there’s no centralized system for keeping tabs on how many of the 10,000 or so county residents without housing on a given night are also pursuing a higher education, Harlan explained.

Davis said at least 1,000 students in his district are homeless and another 2,000 are on the brink of it. And about 13 percent of San Jose State students report being homeless. But the regional database that tracks everyone who requests social services for homelessness doesn’t ask respondents whether they’re in college. The county plans to update its information management system to collect that going forward.

“Homelessness is a regional challenge shared by the entire Bay Area,” SJSU President Mary Papazian said, “one that cries out for meaningful solutions.”

For the sake of the 100-day initiative, that means putting a roof over the heads of students living outside or in their cars. But an extension of that effort should be to prevent students who already have a home from losing it, Deliz emphasized.

Though he now lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Santa Clara, Deliz said he juggles two restaurant jobs to keep up with the $2,200-a-month rent he got stuck with when his flat-mates moved out. That’s on top of a full-time class load.

If local leaders don’t find a solution soon, he said, he fears more and more students will give up on their college dreams.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. > County Vows to House 100 College Students in 100 Days

    Bad decisions by college students.

    Bad decisions by politicians.

    Bad decision making every where.

    College is NOT what it used to be. It is WAY, WAY oversold.

    Most of these “homeless” college students do NOT need a hundred thousand dollars in student debt and a worthless degree on top of their existing problems.

    Shame on the “counselors” and educrat con men pushing these students into debt slavery from which they well spend most of their lifetimes trying to escape.

    • Community College is or can be virtually free. What we cannot provide is housing. Using community colleges allows students to get years of education and degrees while saving the Pell and other grants for after their transfers.

      They are not “homeless”, they are homeless. They are not “counselors” they are counselors and skilled professionals who want to make sure everyone gets the education she or he needs and wants.

      I’m a Trustee for the West Valley Mission CCD. If you like, you can contribute to the food banks that all colleges have.

      • Thank you, Randi! I’m a formerly homeless community college student myself, so it’s heartening to see something like this being done to help the next generation. I wound up finding a place to stay thanks to IHSS, which allowed me to find a deeply discounted room to rent in exchange for part-time care-giving work. This was about 15+ years ago in the far-East Bay. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for students in today’s housing market in this county.

      • > Community College is or can be virtually free.

        Really? Community college is free?

        > I’m a Trustee for the West Valley Mission CCD.

        Well, if your community colleges are “free”, then presumably, you are working for free, not receiving any kind of healthcare benefits or retirement, and your staff must be working for free, too.

        I’m skeptical.

        I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and propose that you really meant to say that Community colleges are COSTLESS to the students, and that the staff and bureaucrats are, in fact, well paid and abundantly benefitted.

        In the REAL world, i.e. the world outside of the progressive “matrix”, community colleges incur mammoth costs.

        The question is: who is stuck with those costs.

        > County Vows to House 100 College Students in 100 Days

        The housing of 100 college students is not costless, and the bureaucrats scheming to stick the costs to poor, unsuspecting stooges in our highly integrated economic system are NOT virtuous philanthropists.

        Sticking huge costs to unaware “donors” is just another form of tribal warfare, just like raiding someone else’s orchard or rustling their sheep.

        “Free education and free housing’ is just more and bolder virtue signaling.

        • Sigh…yes, community colleges are not “free” in that there is no cost to anybody, but let’s get past that wild diversion. No public education is “free” in the sense some money fairy comes down from on high. You might as well say all K-12 schools incur “mammoth” costs. As a country, though, we have established that it is indeed virtuous to maintain a system of public education and not revert to an archaic system where only the wealthy can afford education. That includes college.

          There are a number of local, state and federal programs that help students obtain degrees, certificates and transfer units in an affordable manner for students, especially CC students. Get through a CC and your earnings go up. Half of 4-year college grads come from CCs.

          Skepticism is fine. Declaring something a scheme to stick it to “stooges” (and how disrespectful that is to our students) when you’ve seen nothing of the proposal is presumptuous, not skeptical.

          I’m not in the matrix, I’m in the real world with real budgets and homeless students. For a giggle, go look up how trustee salaries are set.

          And, again, I will be glad to direct you to the way you can donate to student food pantries in your area.

          • > Sigh…yes, community colleges are not “free” in that there is no cost to anybody, but let’s get past that wild diversion.

            Well, That was quick.

            Sucking billions of dollars out of the livelihoods of millions of productive, working people for wasteful and foolish government programs is just a “wild diversion”?

            Spending money is fun, isn’t it.

            Bad news, Randi. It your job were eliminated and your pay and benefits were spent on kites, and balloons, and bubble blowers, you wouldn’t be missed.

  2. The UC dormitory is a lot more expensive, $1500/month each student for a 3 person shared dorm, without kitchen. More than 10 of these rooms share a bathroom. What do we do about that?

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