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LA Room & Board works to help homeless students


They commend work of Inside Safe program

The housing crisis in Los Angeles can and has affected people at every stage in life. Whether that’s a child, teenager, or adult, the widespread impact of homelessness knows no boundaries. Mayor Karen Bass started the Inside Safe initiative when she was first elected, and while there have been positive results, many contend the program is not expediting the street-to-home process fast enough. Los Angeles Room & Board (LARB) is doing its part to alleviate some of the pressures of housing insecurity for students during their time of need. 

“It was a book called ‘Back to School, Why Every American Deserves a Second Chance at Education,’ and profiled eight students at LA Trade Tech. These students were from different backgrounds trying their best to get through college while experiencing housing insecurities,” said Sam Prater, founder and executive director of LA Room & Board. “I was moved from the stories in the book, and while working at a college in the student housing department, I realized there was a bigger impact I could make, and that’s what led to LARB creation.

Prater experienced homelessness in the late 90’s and early 2000’s as a young adult trying to finish school. He said reading that book brought back a lot of trauma and led to the foundation for his mission. LARB, was created in 2018 to ensure that California’s community college students realize their postsecondary education goals by providing affordable transitional housing designed to end homelessness. 

Prater credits the Inside Safe initiative with making tremendous progress and noted that LARB is taking a different approach by specifically targeting students because the homeless crisis affects kids differently.

“Anywhere from four to six thousand children in Los Angeles experience homelessness and don’t receive the same attention as adults because of the overflow,” Prater said. “Our program runs like a college student housing department except they are year-round and start at age 15.”

LARB provides students with three years of continuous housing and support in education, employment, helping through the college selection process, and mental and wellness support on campus. To be considered for the program, you go through a referral program from the county, The LGBT Center, college campuses, and other youth-serving organizations. Prater mentions that it is hard because there are only 190 beds on the campus, and can’t take every person recommended. 

“We deal with a lot of people from different backgrounds and different reasons on how they became homeless, and we take a very delicate approach with their transition into the program and helping build their confidence and impart life skills so they are prepared for the world when it’s time to leave,” Prater said.

The program is looking for help through donations, volunteer work, hygiene supplies, and help with the expansion plan. Learn more about the organization at