Food and housing insecurity, transportation problems, and daycare support are all part of the daily struggle faced by many community college students. Factor in severely reduced capital budgets and the Covid pandemic and we have some very tough times with limited resources for developing solutions.
Currently, less than a third of community colleges provide some sort of housing support. Food banks associated with schools are popping up and many offer daycare but these programs are almost always constrained by funding issues and a lack of resources.
One solution may be for community colleges to offer some new, creative student housing options for their students. This is currently happening at institutions across the country where they look to partner with P3 (public-private partnership) developers to actively pursue plans to build housing facilities to address the needs of their at-risk students.
And, what are those needs? With a little imagination, we should be able to envision a way to make real an apartment-style student residence that may also include daycare facilities (perhaps based on a cooperative model), flexible learning/tutoring spaces, and maybe even some form of community dining/food preparation facilities.
This is not about trying to replicate the residential college experience. And it’s not going to be appropriate for most community colleges. But for a larger, typically urban school this is a niche with significant student numbers whose needs should be addressed. This is about offering students another option and the support they need to realize their dreams.
With an essentially guaranteed revenue stream, P3 developers are always interested in projects like this. And coming out of the pandemic, something like this might just be the thing needed to jump-start a time of growth and renewal for our community colleges.