OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate voted today to pass a bill to provide assistance to homeless college students. The bill passed on a vote of 30-18.

Senate Bill 5800, sponsored by Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), creates pilot programs at four colleges across the state, two on each side of the Cascades, to provide assistance to homeless students and students who were in foster care.

“As a state, we’ve taken important steps to support young students experiencing homelessness while in our K-12 system, but once they get to college, they lose that network,” Randall said. “College students experiencing homelessness are facing so many overlapping challenges—LGBTQ youth become homeless at a much higher rate than their straight, cis-gender peers. Between this bill and the provisions in the Reproductive Health Care Access for All Act, we’re expanding support and health care to vulnerable college students.”

The services that the colleges will provide to eligible students include access to short-term housing or housing assistance; laundry facilities, storage, and showers; reduced-price meal plans; technology; and case management services.

Institutions eligible for the pilot program include all six public, four-year colleges and universities in the state, as well as all 34 and community technical colleges (CTCs). Participating CTCs will be chosen by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and participating four-year colleges by the Washington Student Achievement Council.

Colleges participating in the pilot program will collect data and issue a report in 2023.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.