191130_bul_loc_homeless

COCC student Erik Kersenbrock leaves his bus to go to the science building.

There may be as many as 20 to 30 Central Oregon Community College students living in cars and other vehicles this year. While they can park at the college during the day, each must find someplace else to park at night or risk being ticketed and towed.

Erik Kersenbrock, one of those students, and Julia Russell, student body president, want to change that. They’re working to get the college to allow students living in their vehicles to park overnight on campus. In addition, Kersenbrock hopes to persuade college administrators to waive a $20 per term gym access fee that would give car campers access to the school’s showers.

The school has not rejected the idea, but it may take up to two years to put it in place. That’s partly because the subject is a fairly new one and administrators haven’t had much time to think the whole thing through.

Yet the problem exists now. Students cannot park on nearby College Way overnight without running the risk of being ticketed. And while there are more rental units available than there were a few years ago, rents remain high in Bend. For students struggling to put themselves through school, that can be a real problem. In fact, according to the RentCafe website, the average apartment in Bend rents for about $1,300, and prices go up as the number of bedrooms increases. Some two-bedroom apartments are renting for more than $1,800 per month.

The school is right to want to create a plan that doesn’t turn its parking lots into permanent 24-hour campsites for a student body that’s found a way to save money on rent. At the same time, it could, for now, at least, set aside space for homeless students and adjust as necessary.

The school is right to want to create a plan that doesn’t turn its parking lots into permanent 24-hour campsites for a student body that’s found a way to save money on rent. At the same time, it could, for now, at least, set aside space for homeless students and adjust as necessary.

(1) comment

Jim Price

If it takes administrators 2 years to "think the whole thing through," they must be extremely slow thinkers. Or maybe they just don't have the backbone to make a decision. Either way, perhaps we need new administrators who aren't afraid to try new ideas.

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