Trinity Church Wall Street is partnering with the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) to address homelessness and housing insecurity among the college’s student body, according to Inside Higher Ed. The church has been in existence for over 300 years and is uniquely wealthy with an evaluation of over $6 billion in real estate assets in 2020. The college, which serves some of New York City’s most financially limited students, may soon be able to relieve housing insecurity with the assistance from Trinity Church.
BMCC’s need for help came to the attention of Beatriz de la Torre, the managing director for housing and homelessness at Trinity Church Wall Street, who was “shocked” reading a report describing the dire situation of some college students. The 2019 report by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University “found that 48 percent of CUNY students experienced food insecurity a month prior to taking the survey. More than half, 55 percent, said they were housing insecure, and 14 percent said they had experienced homelessness over the last year.”
Trinity Church plans to give $2 million in funding to BMCC for housing up to 50 homeless students for three years in a dorm-like setting. The administration of BMCC is evaluating possible locations near their campus, and the housing could be available for some students as early as this spring with expectations of housing all 50 students by the fall. Student eligibility will be determined by BMCC along with the on-site services and amenities that will be offered.
Particularly troubling to de la Torre was recognizing the burden and anxiety these college students face sleeping in a shelter or not knowing where they will sleep at night. Ann Shalof, the CEO of the Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter, “which provides supportive housing to unhoused young adults and those transitioning out of the foster care system,” explained the problem of “invisible homelessness.” She noted that homeless young adults are less likely to be noticed as they often “couch surf” between relative’s homes, or sit in an all-night McDonalds to avoid the dangers of being in shelters.
The housing relief provided by Trinity Church will make a tremendous impact on BMCC students whose lives will surely change, having one less burden to worry about. Not having a place to sleep is detrimental to academic success with students being distracted by thinking about where and if they will have a place to sleep each night. Having housing security will allow students to focus on their studies, live healthier lifestyles, and grasp onto the hope that a better future awaits them.