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Colleges Are Looking for Ways to House and Feed Homeless Students

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Thirty-six percent of university and 46 percent of community-college students have insecure housing.

This story was produced in collaboration with the Hechinger Report.

Four years ago, Dorothy Gorder was living under the I-5 bridge in downtown Seattle. Addicted to meth and heroin, she lived in makeshift shelters fashioned out of cardboard boxes and pallets, draping clothing to block out the wind. Her car had been stolen.

Gorder left behind a son in Montana, who was living with his grandmother. A daughter to whom she’d given birth while homeless was taken away and adopted by a foster family. Then she got pregnant again, with another son, and resolved to turn things around.

Now Gorder is on track to earn an associate’s degree in June in the high-demand field of logistics. She also has a place to live: a two-bedroom apartment in Tacoma, Washington.

It was Tacoma Community College that helped her finally find a home for herself and her youngest son, now three.

Gorder was able to move into her apartment thanks to a rental voucher she received through the College Housing Assistance Program, a collaboration with the Tacoma Housing Authority, which provides vouchers for subsidized rent to 150 students who are, or may become, homeless.

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