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House panel votes for aid to homeless college students

OLYMPIA – Homeless students in Washington would have more support while attending universities under two bills passed by a legislative committee Wednesday.

One bill would require the state Board of Community and Technical Colleges to create a pilot program offering homeless students such services as affordable housing, free or reduced-price meals, laundry and bathroom facilities.

“Let’s get (students) off the main streets and get them into the mainstream,” said Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, the bill’s sponsor.

It also would require plans to develop surplus property for affordable housing, and must include both community and technical colleges, as well as one four-year university on each side of the Cascades.

Another bill would require two- and four-year colleges and universities to provide housing for college-bound students who qualify under a federal law covering aid to homeless students.

Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden, said she supports the intention of the bill, but thinks the definition of homelessness should be more specific. Many higher education institutions already do everything they can to help their homeless students, she said.


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