Thanks to financial help from the city, Glendale Community College will be able to include housing financial assistance among its other offerings under its Fresh Success programming.
The City Council committed $1.309 million in funding to GCC at a special meeting this week, held jointly with the city’s Housing Authority. The money comes from the city’s Measure S sales tax and is being transmitted through that fund’s newly created Low Income Student Rental Assistance Program. The college is essentially being contracted to run that program.
“The bulk of the program — approximately 98% of it — is going to be given to the responsibility of GCC to administer it,” explained Peter Zovak, the city’s assistance director of community development.
GCC’s Fresh Success program is a new mechanism to assist the college’s low-income students developed by the newly made Office for Basic Needs. Students enrolled in the program will receive assistance in obtaining food, shelter, transportation and other essential needs to help them finish their education.
The college spearheaded these initiatives after surveys conducted in 2019 and 2020 indicated that a significant portion of GCC students experienced basic needs hardships that hampered their ability to focus on their classwork and studies. The city’s low-income student assistance programming, which was approved for development in October along with other pandemic-related rental assistance programs, comes around just in time to help out here.
“The Fresh Success program was designed to address nearly all of those with the exception of housing,” Zovak said. “My understanding was that none of the funding that they identified for the program was able to address the housing component.
Andre Manukyan, a program manager with the Basic Needs department, explained Tuesday that at least 14% of GCC’s students indicated in the surveys that they experienced housing insecurity within the prior year, which was pre-pandemic. Those issues have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“If we are interested in addressing job readiness and assuring that the students are able to complete their education to contribute back to the city, housing is a critical component,” Manukyan added. “It wouldn’t be possible to address that without the city’s support.”
Applicants for rental assistance must reside within Glendale, be at least a part-time student at GCC, enrolled in a specific range of courses and must be below the Very Low Income level at the time of application — in this case, less than 50% of the Los Angeles County Area Median Income.
As is typical of most rental assistance programs, payments will be made directly to the applicants’ landlord.
The city’s funding is expected to cover three years of assistance for GCC’s Fresh Success program, with up to 100 students served. Funding can be granted for as little as one day of emergency or crisis assistance and for as long as 12 months.
GCC officials are “confident that the program will have a long lasting impact on both Glendale College students and the broader Glendale community,” Manukyan told the council. “This program will not only expand the partnership between the city and the district, but also address the needs of the most vulnerable populations living in the city of Glendale.”
Councilwoman Paula Devine offered a hearty endorsement of the agreement, which was unanimously approved by the council.
“I think this is a perfect example of the good use and the good work that the Measure S funding is going to,” she said. “We can’t afford for the next generation of leaders to lose access to higher education or to be forced off their path to a degree. This is a very critical time. We’re developing future leaders for our community, for the workforce, for government and we just can’t let the pandemic slow down our progress.”