LA organization to provide free housing, meals to 53 homeless college students

An organization based in L.A. can now give dozens of college students experiencing homelessness a place to live, free meals, tutoring and more.
WESTWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Eyewitness News introduced you to Sam Prater back in December, when he was in the beginning stages of creating a program for college students experiencing homelessness.

Now, he's weeks away from opening the doors to the The Opportunity House, which will house 53 students in Westwood. The organization, Los Angeles Room and Board, is guaranteeing housing for two years, and thanks to generous community groups, will also provide breakfast, dinner and more.

"Academic coaching and mentorship, financial planning and literacy, mental health and wellness," said Prater.

They're preparing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We put together a 14-page infectious disease protocol that will keep our staff safe and our students safe," he said.

Aaron Damsel, 28, got accepted. Damsel is studying aviation mechanics and has been living in this RV on a parking lot, saying it's been hard to find permanent housing and a stable job.

"Now while I'm going to school and I'm going to be working part time, it'll be really helpful to not have to worry about, 'am I going to be able to shower tomorrow?' or 'Am I going to be towed?' or you know, 'Who's knocking on my window at three in the morning,'" said Damsel.

According to a recent study, 1 in 5 California community college students is experiencing homelessness, and about half experience food insecurity.

Prater's mission is to open up more spaces like The Opportunity House.

"Partner with, again, progressive college campuses that feel like they have a role in ending student homelessness, and then citizens who have, you know, empty homes," he said.
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