Homelessness and Housing Insecurity Are Ongoing Issues

Student basic needs insecurity has persisted throughout the pandemic and even worsened in many cases. A recent report indicates that the pandemic impacted 48% of student’s housing security while 14% were impacted by homelessness. Even before COVID, 11% of students at the California State University, 19% of students at California’s Community Colleges, and 5% at the University of California system experienced homelessness. 

To tackle the homelessness and housing insecurity crisis in higher education, The Michelson 20MM Foundation is partnering with Elevate Community Services and Fresno City College to create the “Elevate Hope Student Housing Blueprint”. This resource will outline how campuses throughout the state can develop public-private partnerships to house more students at affordable rates. 

The HOPE Public-Private Partnership

Since January 2021 Elevate Community Services, the 501(c)(3) arm of RH Community Builders (Elevate/RHCB), has leased seventy-one apartments to Fresno City College (FCC) students through their newly launched pilot program: Housing Opportunities Promote Education (HOPE). They have been able to do this by partnering with Fresno City College and leveraging millions of dollars from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), and the Fresno County Department of Social Services. 

Through this unique public-private partnership between a developer and a university, students who wouldn’t be able to afford housing, or who would be precluded from accessing it such as justice impacted students, are given the opportunity to put a roof over their heads at below market rates. By August 2022, Elevate/RHBC will have an additional 111 units available for students to lease. In addition, the Elevate/RHCB model is being replicated by the Fresno Housing Authority, which will add forty-six additional units funded by the City of Fresno. In total, 219 apartments will be leased to Fresno City College students in less than two years. The Elevate Hope Student Housing Blueprint will compile the steps schools throughout California can take to replicate this model in their own backyard. 

Sharing HOPE Throughout California

The Elevate Hope Student Housing Blueprint will provide schools with the following:

  • A case study of Fresno City College’s successful efforts
  • Outline how schools can leverage student financial aid to secure affordable housing
  • Discuss how schools can leverage on an off campus partnerships and resources to help meet student’s basic needs once they’ve secured housing
  • Create a reference guide on housing industry terminology and how it applies to higher education
  • List all currently available funding streams including new funding streams made available during COVID-19
  • Compare building policies and highlight which can be leveraged by campuses to keep rent affordable for  students
  • Share the steps on how to build a successful public-private partnership between a school and a developer  

In addition to publishing the blueprint, Elevate Hope Community Services and Fresno City College will share the resource via webinars and conferences so as to ensure it is disseminated to colleges and universities throughout California. 

To learn more about the Student Basic Needs crisis, we invite you to visit our YouTube channel, which features a webinar with the nation’s leading experts on the subject.


Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation seeking to accelerate progress towards a more just world through grantmaking, operating programs, and impact investing. Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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