ITT Tech closure could turn into 'housing crisis' for veterans

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Southern California education officials believe that the closure of ITT Tech campuses will lead some veterans who attended the for-profit campuses to become homeless.

“Now you have a housing crisis on top of an education crisis," said Tom Boscamp, the veterans' resource center specialist at Coastline College. "Some of them are going to be out on the street in a month.” 

At issue is what is known as the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) that veterans receive as part of their GI Bill benefits while enrolled full time at an educational institution.

ITT Tech shut its doors September 6 and that means many veterans may not be able to find another institution where they can enroll full time.

“So now you’ve got classes that have already started," Boscamp said. "Most of these student veterans are not going to be able to get into classes, so guess what? For the next three months they don’t get no BAH."

It’s unclear how many veterans will stop receiving housing allowances because of ITT Tech’s shutdown.

About 30 percent of ITT Tech’s students nationwide were veterans, but not all received GI Bill tuition and housing benefits. The college enrolled nearly 4,000 students at 14 campuses in California, most of them in Southern California.

Boscamp is advising veterans left out in the cold by the ITT Tech closure to enroll in as many community classes as possible, because veterans can receive a partial housing allowance if they’re enrolled part-time.

The BAH is determined by zip code. In Orange County the monthly allowance is about $2500.

“That helps you a lot, that’s a big amount of money,” said Chirag Mukhia, a former Marine who lives in Westminster and who had enrolled at the ITT Tech campus in Orange for a business degree.

He said he expects his September BAH to be his last one until he can enroll at another college. For the time being he plans to use his savings and income from his job at an aerospace company to pay rent.

“I’m lucky, at least I have a job, but there are a lot of veterans that I met, they didn’t have a job, they were depending on that housing allowance every month,” he said.

Public agencies are bracing themselves for the impact of the ITT Tech closure on veterans.

California’s Department of Veterans is urging ITT Tech student-veterans having trouble paying their bills to contact regional counselors who can help veterans find temporary help.

“I hope they do something fast. They always forget the veterans,” Mukhia said.

The principal agencies that help veterans are the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs, and each county’s veterans service office.

“They should get the listing of all student veterans, and reach out to them one on one,” said Alexander Carrasco, a business services representative with JVSLA, a non profit that helps veterans with career coaching, job training, and job placement.

He said public agencies should do more than send veterans an email that their housing benefit will end and work should start now to head off a housing crisis that may result from ITT Tech’s closure.

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