SJSU Teams With Airbnb on Test Program to Help House Students

The number of Bay Area students dealing with homelessness and housing insecurity is on the rise. On Wednesday, they were getting some help through a mix of city funding and software to find them places to stay while they’re in school.

The 100-day test program aims to offer students places to stay for a few days or a few weeks, linking students with homes on Airbnb, with help from the city and the Bill Wilson Center.

"The Bill Wilson Center has a state grant that will help with rent that will be paid to Airbnb hosts," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

Like the Bay Area as a whole, San Jose State is struggling with a homelessness problem. The university estimates it has somewhere close to 100 students who struggle with where to live while they go to school.

"I had to make the choice to stay at home for the first few years or trying to find a place here at the dorms," one student said.

The Bill Wilson Center will help coordinate and facilitate the program.

"We’re gonna basically be the connector, making sure we identify and qualify the students and work with San Jose State to make sure those who need it find it," said Ron Ricci, board president for the center.

Chris Lehane of Airbnb said the students aren't necessarily homeless, but they're struggling with tough financial decisions that could affect their education.

"These aren’t necessarily people permanently out of a home," Lehane said. "Maybe they're at the end of a quarter, trying to make the next tuition, having to choose between books and rent."

If the program is working at the end of the 100-day test, all parties will look for more funding, both from companies and from the city.

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