The emergency shelter-at-home order for the county of San Luis Obispo went into place on March 19, 2020, leaving students concerned about paying rent in the months that follow.
“I think this month for the most part people were able to pay their rent; I think next month [April] and future months are where the challenge is going to land,” said Donna Howard, Cuesta College student support coordinator.
The inability to work is a foreseeable problem for those whose employment is unable to open until the ordinance is lifted. Half of renters were unable to pay their rent in full for the month of May and one-third of renters were incapable of paying rent on time in April, according to a study conducted by multiple real estate associations.
“Luckily my parents help me out and I just filed for unemployment like two days ago, but I can see not having work and having to pay rent being an issue,” said Jake Liuag, a student at Cuesta College.
The San Luis Obispo County emergency order is reviewed every 14 days to assess the necessary longevity of the order. As of April 16, the order has been extended until May 16, leaving many people jobless until further notice.
County Emergency Services Director Wade Horton reported on April 30 that the shelter at home order remains in effect until the next evaluation date.
Cuesta College has a wide range of resources available to students who are in need of support.
“For the students who can not afford to pay their rent, the governor has created a no eviction ordinance,” Howard said. “We do have two free legal resources for students whose landlords do not want to abide by that.”
The City of San Luis Obispo issued an executive order on March 18 suspending evictions on any rental properties in the county for failure to pay rent due to COVID-19. This ordinance protects individuals who are struggling to pay their rent across all seven cities in San Luis Obispo County.
California Assembly Bill 828 is proposing to lower rent by 25 percent for one year on rental properties as a result of a pending eviction due to a tenant’s inability to pay rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuesta College does not have on-campus housing, which for many students means their housing is not directly affected by the school closing.
“Community college is a little different because people are living in the community already,” Howard said.
Unlike Cal Poly, whose students were asked to leave their dormitories and stay at their permanent residences. Most Cuesta College students already live in housing units independent of the school.
“It [COVID-19] has not impacted my housing at all, I don’t live in student housing or anything like that,” said Martin Thompson, a student at Cuesta College.
The school closure may not directly impact students’ housing, but some students have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, which can put a strain on paying rent or buying groceries.
There are options available to students in need of groceries. The Campus Food Pantry on both campuses is open. The food pantry on the San Luis Obispo campus is located in the library and open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. On the North County Campus, it is held inside the campus center Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We do want to encourage all the students to apply for CalFresh, that’s $194 a month in food,” Howard said.
Student services have created a resource hub on Canvas to help students find the assets they need. The hub includes links and information about housing insecurity, food, online tutoring, academic counseling, and much more. This includes the Wellness Center, which provides access to either a mental health professional or a registered nurse through the Cuesta Student Health Department.
The school counselors are encouraging everyone to make an appointment and utilize the Student Services Hub.