OSU-Cascades set to launch new housing subsidy fall term

This illustration is meant to show the future of housing for OSU-Cascades students. The new housing subsidy will be available for students who go to school on the OSU-Cascades campus next academic year.

Luke Reynolds, OSU-Cascades Beat Reporter

Oregon State University-Cascades in Bend, Ore. is leading a new initiative to provide a housing subsidy for Cascades students.

Michael Tornatta, the student inclusion coordinator at OSU-Cascades is a member of the Associated Students of the Cascades Campus—the student government of OSU-Cascades—and was tasked with leading the new housing subsidy forward. 

Tornatta was not alone as housing has been a big issue that has resonated with ASCC members.

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“It was absolutely a group effort. Housing has been a passion of our current [student body] president Taha [Elwefati] and our group in general was passionate about housing,” Tornatta said.

The housing subsidy will be available for students who go to school on the OSU-Cascades campus next academic year, with applications opening late May or early June.

“We are hoping to have that open at least in the last few weeks of spring quarter, and it will be available for students in fall [term] as well. You can basically apply for individual quarters. If you knew in the future you were going to need help with housing or something, you could select only those quarters to receive support,” Tornatta said.

According to Tornatta, students can receive up to $700 for an entire academic year when applications open for fall term. However, Tornatta said he hopes that the program will be expanded in the future as the current initiative is a pilot program.

“Most people have housing partially covered by financial aid but given the cost of housing and the way financial aid is calculated, we are hoping to make up some of those differences if their housing is more expensive than their aid is willing to cover,” Tornatta said.

Through the program, student government will work with the Office of Financial Aid to help students. Money given by the housing subsidy program will primarily be calculated based on a student’s financial aid need. According to Tornatta, the program will help students “patch-up” areas where they are struggling. 

For students who do not have financial aid, the program will still be available to register. Students can apply for the subsidy in fall term 

using the CampusGroups app, which allows OSU-Cascades faculty and students to connect with one another.

“On our CampusGroups app, we’ll have an application just like any other [program], like the child care subsidy or food pantry. It’ll be available in a form just like those,” Tornatta said.

The application will also be available on OSU-Cascades’ website and asks  for information like the applicant’s self-reported income.

Moving forward, Tornatta will be part of the Housing Subsidy Committee.

“Right now we’ve only had one meeting so far. All the folks on that committee are just awesome. All student leaders. I know that moving forward, that will be a really solid group,” Tornatta said.

For now, the next big step for the housing subsidy is fundraising money in summer term in order to expand the project. This money would be an addition to the money that is allocated by the Student Fee Committee at OSU-Cascades.

According to Tornatta, the housing subsidy project will be long term that the current student government can leave behind for future students.

“Moving forward we are hoping to leave this [project] as a legacy,” Tornatta said.