WESTWOOD—A group of students led by UCLA doctoral candidate Louis Tse co-founded the Bruin Shelter. The shelter is the only second student-run shelter of its kind in the nation. The shelter located in Santa Monica, welcomes in UCLA and Santa Monica College students ages 18-24 at any degree level.
Tse created Bruin Shelter which offers beds to residents for the entire three months of a UCLA quarter to provide stability. The intake process is based on a holistic criteria in order to help the most vulnerable students. Tse explains: “We understand young adults experience homelessness for a variety of difficult circumstances, whether it is domestic abuse, aging out of foster care, being LGBT in an unsupportive family or something else.”
The 26-year-old mechanical engineering student, developed Bruin Shelter as a way to do something on behalf of his fellow students. The shelter is student run for his peers who are experiencing homelessness in the greater Los Angeles area.
Tse while gathering resources for Bruin Shelter also ended up being homeless living out of his car once. He has developed Bruin Shelter to be a “unique platform that will train and cultivate UCLA students to be the next generation of philanthropists, and cement UCLA as a trailblazer in tackling youth homelessness.”
When asked by the UCLA Alumni Association on his interest on homelessness Tse responded: “I think it is something that hits close to home for me personally because I know fellow college students whose environments are weighing them down. They are ambitious and they are here at UCLA, but adolescence is hard for everyone. So observing them and seeing what they have to go through, it is particularly salient for me because it could easily be me.”
UCLA Alumi Association spoke to third-year UCLA student Ria Mukherjee who is the Resource Advocacy Co-director who said, “We are focusing on college students. We don’t have an exact policy written out for who we allow, but we are looking outside of UCLA. We are focused on students in the general Westside area. However, UCLA students are the ones who have the strongest connection to the program.”
The Bruins Shelter team is looking for the help from UCLA alumni to help make the shelter a reality.
“We need alumni to make this dream happen. One of the most impactful ways to give is through our account with the UCLA Foundation. Proceeds go directly to giving our residents the best chance of gaining stability and obtaining their degree, which is gravely important. For those who can’t give directly, we are always seeking donations for items such as food and blankets. For those who are interested in getting more involved and joining our team, we are also looking to create an Alumni Board of Directors. We do feel a kinship with UCLA and helping fellow Bruins,” said Tse.
The Bruin Shelter has partnered up with Harvard Y2Y in providing for vulnerable youth in local communities along with re-examining the assumptions about what being homeless means. The Bruin Shelter is the first of its kind on the West Coast. Tse met with Rev. Eric Shafer of Mount Olive Lutheran Church and both decided to team up and have the shelter be located at the church.
“I am very humbled and inspired by the work these students have done. They are very smart individuals, and to see Louis make his dream a reality is truly remarkable. I am happy we are able to get students off the streets, now I am hoping other congregations will follow our step and help these kids out.” He goes on to say, “This is a convenient spot for the shelter, and the students are able to hop on the bus right outside that will lead them to UCLA. Speaking of UCLA I have no doubt they will get involved and help out in the future,” said Rev. Eric Shafer.
According to the Santa Monica Daily Press, the shelter is partly funded by the UCLA Graduate Student Association. Mt. Olive Lutheran Church received a grant from the Lutheran Synod to help with the shelter’s finances.
Residents of the shelter get their own bed, receive breakfast and dinner. There is also communal living spaces with printing, TV, and study areas. Guests under the age of 18 are not allowed. Pets, weapons, drugs or alcohol are not allowed inside the shelter. Everyone’s belongings are subject to search upon entry.
Flash Passes are available for residents. UCLA med students are available to help with medical, dental and vision needs with co-pays along with a comprehensive network of on campus resources. There will also be counseling services, internship and career planning workshops.
Bruins Shelter is expected to open in October 2016. For UCLA and SMC students who are interested in applying visit http://www.bruinshelter.com/for-young-adults/. The Bruin Shelter is accepting applications for volunteers and supervisors for the shelter. Those who would like to donate monetary funds or items for the shelter visit http://www.bruinshelter.com/donate/. For those with questions email firstname.lastname@example.org.