Padilla, Feinstein, Torres Lead Bicameral Call to Bolster Funding for Basic Needs for Postsecondary Students Program and Address Student Hunger and Homelessness

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein (both D-Calif.) along with Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (D-Calif.-35) led their colleagues in a bicameral letter requesting that the Senate and House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations subcommittees include at least $32 million for the Basic Needs for Postsecondary Students Program. Basic Needs grants support innovative programming to provide students with nutrition, housing, child care, and other assistance to ensure they can concentrate on learning.

“As you develop the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we request that you include at least $32 million in funding for the Basic Needs for Postsecondary Students Program (“Basic Needs Grants”) within the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education,” the lawmakers write in the letter. “Basic Needs Grants leverage Federal, State, local, and institutional resources to improve access to the nutritious food, stable housing, affordable child care, physical and mental health services, technology, and transportation that students need to be successful.”

“Reflecting the substantial demand and the range of areas that institutions can use these funds to address, we ask that increase support for this program to $32 million,” the lawmakers continued. “With this level of funding, we estimate that the number of receiving institutions could grow to more than 40, serving more than half a million students nationwide.”

“In addition to expanded funding, we also encourage you to include report language that focuses the program on systemic approaches that are informed by behavioral science and human-centered design to addressing basic needs insecurity,” the lawmakers concluded. “Addressing the crisis of student basic needs insecurity is essential for helping students access and afford higher education, especially as we continue to grapple with the ongoing disruptions triggered by the pandemic. Basic Needs Grants will help build that recovery by supporting evidence-based approaches and helping students navigate a complex web of supports.”

In addition to Senators Padilla, Feinstein, and Representative Torres, the letter was also signed by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.-44), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.-05), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.-13), Lou Correa (D-Calif.-46), John Garamendi (D-Calif.-03), and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.-20).

Recent surveys have found that nearly half of students face housing insecurity, and 39 percent of college students face food insecurity. Last year, Congresswoman Torres and Senator Padilla introduced the Basic Assistance for Students In College (BASIC) Act to ensure college students are able to meet their basic needs while pursuing their education.

For the full letter text, click here.