The Dream Homes initiative will give rent-free housing to undocumented students who attend the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA). The initiative is specifically aimed at immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children, according to Campus Reform. The Dream Homes initiative was launched by the nonprofit organization Sand2Pearl. The rent-free housing will be located within walking distance of the South Texas campus. The living quarters will open for undocumented students this fall and will initially grant the free housing to seven university students who qualify for the Dream Homes initiative program.
“The number of Dreamers who will benefit in August will be seven, but the students who will ultimately benefit will be countless,” Sarah Chavez, the nonprofit organization’s executive director, explained, according to NBC News. There are about 800 undocumented immigrant students currently enrolled at the Texas university. According to Cappex, there are just under 19,000 students enrolled in the university total, with just under 13,000 students enrolled full time.
“Federal law does not prohibit states from providing in-state tuition to undocumented students. Currently, at least 17 states have passed legislation allowing undocumented graduates of state high schools to pay in-state tuition for colleges and universities,” a webpage from the University of Texas at Austin stated.
“The Dream Home is meant to empower the community,” Chavez explained. “I’m tired of these students, my friends, having to live in secret. I’m tired of them struggling.”
She said that thanks to the Dream Homes initiative, chosen undocumented students will not have to worry about a housing payment and will be able to concentrate entirely on their studies.
“They’re all going to get degrees, and I’m going to encourage them to get graduate degrees and encourage them from there.”
Chavez’ father reportedly purchased the house that will home the first seven students to participate in the Dream Homes initiative, and it should be completely paid off within the next six years. This dream home was also made possible by donations of materials, paint, and furniture from local businesses.
The nonprofit organization is also focusing on outreach programs through South Texas high schools in order to inform undocumented high school students of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by educating high school teachers and counselors. In addition to the Dream Homes initiative opportunity, undocumented immigrants who are Texas students can also apply for taxpayer funded grants to help pay for tuition and expenses at public colleges and universities. Eligible university students must participate in the DACA program or be undocumented in order to be eligible to participate in the Dream Homes initiative.
Patricia Estrada, who works with Chavez on the Dream Homes initiative, said that the they have the ultimate goal of helping future generations out of poverty by providing undocumented students an opportunity now, adding, “It will be a way for students to make a life that allows them to provide for their families as best as they can.”
— WhiteHouseHispanicEd (@HispanicEd) March 11, 2015
[Photo adapted from UTPA logo and Pixabay image]