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Housing Information 

The purpose of the Host Family Program is to provide our students with a warm home and an opportunity to learn more about American culture.  Your host family will provide you guidelines and support during your studies in the United States. 

Please be advised that Host Placements are based on availability and not guaranteed. 

How are Host Families Chosen?

Our host families are carefully screened by our Housing Coordinator.  We make sure that the host family assigned to you will provide a safe as well as educational environment.  
We expect our host families to familiarize you with the surrounding area in Palm Desert and make you a part of their family.  We also expect our host families to provide you a clean and safe environment.
For room and board families, we expect that your host family cooks dinner at least four to five times a week, however, there will be days when you have to cook for yourself.  Your host family will make sure that there is plenty of food available.

COD's Role:

College of the Desert is release from all liability related to this placement.  This is an agreement between the host and the student.  However, COD is here to assist you and your host family with any questions that you may have.  The Housing Coordinator is available to help mediate conflicts between you and your host.   

Housing Coordinator’s Role:

The Housing Coordinator is available to assist you while you are in your host family.  You are encouraged to see the Housing Coordinator if you have any questions about your host family placement.  
You can contact the Housing Coordinator, Kristen Nelson, at


The host family will provide you with a private room, a bed, closet, desk, lamp and chair.  Bedding will also be provided.
We understand that privacy is very important.  It is okay to let your host family know that you would like to have some privacy.  Your host family should not be allowed to enter your room without your permission especially if you are not at home.  Your host family should not have anything of theirs inside your room that would give them reasons to enter your room at any time.

Payment Regulations:

Rent: Payment will be made directly to the host family on a month to month basis.  The month begins on the day you sign the contract.  For example, if you sign the contract on August 8th, a full month’s rent would be calculated to September 8th and rent payment would be due each month on the 8th. Please see Two Week Grace Period Procedures.
Rental rates are as follows:
  • Room with meals - $700/month
  • Room only - $500/month 
If the rent is higher than these figures, notify the Housing Coordinator immediately.
We require the use of receipts by both the host family and student whenever possible.  This protects both you and the host family.  We have provided some samples at the end of these guidelines.Two-week Grace Period:
The Host Home Program allows for a two week grace period from the date you first arrive at the host family’s home.   No contracts are to be signed during the first two weeks of your stay in the home. 
One semester contract: All placements are based on a one semester contract.  After the initial 2 week grace period, you are required to stay with the host family for one semester.  Failure to do so will cause the student to owe the remaining rent on the contract.  Only in exceptional cases will you be allowed to move.  This is established in the Host Home Contract.
Security Deposit: Your assigned host family will ask for non-refundable security deposit of $50.00 when you first move in.   This security deposit is non-refundable.   The deposit is to be used for any damage that occurs and to cover any cleaning costs after you move out. Upon move out, if there are other damages caused by you, beyond the $50.00 deposit, you will be responsible for paying for the repairs. 

Telephone Deposit: If you will be using the host family’s telephone, you will be asked to pay a refundable deposit of $50.00.  The use of the host family’s telephone is a privilege and long distance charges must be paid on time.  Failure to pay your phone bills in a timely manner will result in the loss phone privileges.  You are expected to pay for all long distance phone calls each month.  Payment will be made after the host family has given a copy of the bill to the student.
After you move out, the phone deposit is refundable after all long distance call deductions are made.  A final receipt indicating any deductions will be sent to you as well.
If you want your own phone line, you can discuss this with your host family.   Generally, the installation fee is $75.00 - $100.00.  If you get your own telephone line, or are asked by the host family to get your own telephone line, you do not need to pay a telephone deposit.
Two-Week Grace Period Procedure:
Upon move-in, students will pay a two week rental rate which is the 14 day pro-rated amount of the monthly rental rate.  A $50.00 non-refundable security deposit will also be due at this time.

Your host family will sit down with you and review the house rules.   You should determine if the house rules are agreeable at least at the end of the the first week.
During the first two weeks, both you and your host family have time to decide if this is a good match. We want you both to be happy and the two week grace period will allow you to do so without the binding constraint of a contract.  The Housing Coordinator will be contacting both you and the family during these two weeks to make sure things are going well.
At the end of the two weeks (on day 14) sit down with your family and, if both parties are agreeable, sign the Host Family Contract.   Your host family will also collect rent at this time. Remember, contract end dates are the last date of the semester.  If you will use the host family’s telephone, the host family will collect the refundable $50.00 telephone deposit.
You will be given a copy of the Host Family Contract and the Phone Deposit Receipt.
If for some reason, you are not happy with the placement during the first two weeks, please contact the Housing Coordinator immediately so that we can make other arrangements for you.
Please note:  You may move to another host family or choose to find other housing arrangements You will lose your rent if you move out before two weeks.
Authorized moves:
The student is expected to stay with their host family for one semester, unless unforeseen conflicts and/or emergencies arise necessitating a move.  Such conflicts/emergencies include, but are not limited to:  conflicts with the host family, unauthorized increase in rent and/or deposit amounts, emergencies that require the student to return to their home country, host families requesting that the student move out.  The International Student Office will determine if a student’s situation qualifies as an authorized move out after discussion with the host family and the student.
If the student is determined to have a legitimate emergency that requires a move out prior to the end of the semester, the host family must return pro-rate any remaining portion of the rent.
Unauthorized moves:
Unauthorized move outs include, but are not limited to the following:  moving in with friends, moving to an apartment, moving out before the 30-days notice (except in emergencies).
If a student moves out for the above reasons, they forfeit the rent for the remaining contract period. This is explained to the student prior to their move into your home.
Moving out:
Before your semester contract has been completed, we require that you give your host family 30 days written notice when planning to move out.   HOWEVER, if problems occur during the home stay requiring a move prior to 30 days notice, this will be negotiated with the Housing Coordinator.
At the end of the contract period, if both parties agree to continue their housing arrangement, the rental contract becomes a month-to-month contract that requires a 30 day written notice prior to move out to terminate the agreement, unless the student and host family sign a separate agreeement terminating these terms.  If a separate written rental contract has been made where the student stays less than one month, rental rates will be based on the daily pro-rate.  
Orientation to Your New Home:
Once you arrive in your new home, your host family will give you an orientation to the whole house.  Your host family will show you how to use household appliances, how to use the bus and orient you to the local area.  Your host family understands that you may have many questions and they are prepared to answer your questions.  Do not be afraid to ask questions; they are there to help you.
Kitchen:   Please make sure that your host family shows you how to use the microwaves, oven, dishwater, etc. before attempting to operate them.  At times, you will be expected to cook for yourself, you will need to know where the food and cooking utensils are located.
Laundry:  All host families must have their own laundry facilities in their home.  Some host families may offer to do your laundry for you.  Your host family will show you how to operate the washing machine and to know the proper amount of soap to use.  Room/Board families will provide laundry detergent for the students.  Rent only families are encouraged to do the same.  
Local orientation:   Once you are settled, your host family will orient you to the surrounding area, including the route to and from school and the local bus stop.  You will also be shown the local mall and markets.
Bus Schedule:  The bus system in Palm Desert operates on a schedule.  Your host family will assist you with your bus route to and from school, how to read a bus schedule and show you the location of the bus stop near your home.  You may also call Sun Bus at 760-343-3451 for more information.
Banking:  Your host family will help you open your own bank account.  You will need to bring your passport and your I-20.  It is recommended that you open a checking account for the convenience of paying your tuition, monthly rent and other miscellaneous expenses.
Room/Board: Meals tend to cause the biggest concern in the host family experience.  Communication is the best way to solve any problems, but listed below are some guidelines that may assist you:
Your host family will provide enough food so you can prepare your own breakfast and lunch.  Dinner will be provided by your host.  American meals normally include the following:  Breakfast menu may include steak or hamburger, soup, juice and dessert.
Your host family should prepare meals at least 4-5 times a week.  There will be times when you will need to prepare your own meals.  We encourage our host families to take you to the grocery store when they go shopping.  Let your host family know if there are certain foods you cannot eat.
When you arrive, your host family will sit down with you and ask you what types of food you like to eat.  Your host family will let you know what the typical morning meal in their home is, so that you will have a better understanding of what to expect.  This is especially true with “sack lunches” which are typically American style meals.
If you will be away for an evening, please make sure you let your host family know not to expect you for dinner or ask them if they can leave a plate of food for you.   If you have an evening class, ask your host to leave a plate of food to heat up when you return home.  Let your host family know your schedule.
Rent Only: Some students may choose to have “rent only”.  Rent only arrangements mean you will need to purchase and cook your own food.  However, your host family can take you to the market.


As part of the normal chores, your host family will expect you to clean up your room and bathroom.  Host families may also ask you to do other household chores like washing dishes or taking out the trash.  These house chores are all associated with being part of a family.


Most of our host families live in Palm Desert, however, we have host families that live in the radius of ten to fifteen miles from the campus.  Although, our host families are not obligated to take you to school, some host families will be able to provide you transportation to and from school.  If your host family cannot provide transportation for you, please keep in mind that you are placed in a home that has either access to bus line or in walking distance.


Americans are fond of animals.  Many families have pets in their home and they are treated as members of the family.  If you are not in favor of pets in your home, please notify your Housing Coordinator so we may do our best to place you elsewhere.


The host family will sit down with you and discuss any house rules.  It is your responsibility to follow the established house rules.  Failure to do so can result in your removal from the home.  Common rules include:
  • students are not allowed to smoke in the house
  • specific times that you must be home during the week (or on the weekend)
  • regulations regarding phone use
  • keeping your room, bathroom and kitchen clean

Activities with Your Host:

The purpose of the Host Family Program is to provide the student with an opportunity to learn about American culture.  We want you to interact with your host families as often as you can.  You will have a chance to do activities together such as going to the movies, going shopping, going to the beach, etc.  It is spending quality time with your host family that will make your stay more memorable.


Remember, open communication is the key to a successful home stay experience.  Do not be afraid to sit down and talk to your host family.  This will be necessary to fix any problems that you may have during your stay.
You must also come to see the Housing Coordinator in the International Student Office.  The Housing Coordinator is here to help you throughout your placement.

Host Program Removal:
Both Host families and students within the Host Program are expected to follow guidelines and policies of the program. Please be advised that not following these regulations is grounds for removal from the Host Home Program and its offered services. Some cases for grounds for removal are, but not limited to, consistently breaking house rules, refusing to pay rent, and not paying rent on time. 

These types of cases will be carefully reviewed by the International Office. 
Questions and Answers:
What if I don’t like my host family? To live with a host family will require adjustment period.  If you communicate with your host at all times, you will find that you will become comfortable with them.  We understand that not everyone is compatible with each other.  Therefore, if during the two-week grace period you are experiencing a difficult time with your host family, you can contact the Housing Coordinator to arrange for another homestay.
What if my host family has their personal belongings in my room? Your host family should not be storing any of their personal belongings in your room.  Ask your host family to remove their things so you can use the space for your own personal items.  The only thing that should be in your room is a bed, a chair, a desk and a lamp.
What if my host family keeps entering my room without permission? Your host family should respect your privacy.  If you find that your host family keeps entering your room without your permission, ask them politely to please not enter your room especially if you are away.  If it continues, contact the Housing Coordinator.
What kind of food will I be eating in my home? The most important thing to remember is that American food may be different than the food you are used to eating at home.  Adjusting to the food is part of the host family experience.  American meals may include steak, hamburger, potato, vegetable, salad and dessert. At times, host families will microwave food or go to a fast food restaurant.  Your host will ask if there are special foods you would like to eat.
What if I don’t get enough food with my meals and I am still hungry? If you find that you are not getting full with the food provided to you, please let your host family know so they can prepare adequate servings for you and the rest of the family.    
Why do we have house rules? Just like in your own home, house rules are set by your host family for your own protection.  For instance, if you are asked not to stay out late at night during school days, your host is only looking out for your welfare.  Many times, students who stay out late at night have a difficult time making it to their morning classes.  House rules are not set to limit your movement but only to make sure you are safe.         

What happens if I break a house rule? Like your parents, you host family will be forgiving.  However, if you continue to break the house rules, it may result in your removal from the house.  If you cannot follow any of the house rules, please discuss them with your host family.  For example, smoking is a house rule that most families expect you to follow. 

Do I have to pay for transportation? Your host family is not obligated to take you to school since there are ways for you to go to school.  Some students take the bus and others ride their bicycles.  If you would like to arrange for your host to drop and pick you up from the campus, your host may ask you for additional payment for gas.  You can negotiate the payment with your host.

What if my host family asks me to lend them money? You should never lend money to your host family.  The money you give to your host family should only be the payment for your rent and phone bills.  If your host family attempts to borrow money from you, please let the Housing Coordinator know.

Will my time with my host family be “problem free”? We cannot guarantee your homestay will be “problem free”.  However, communication with your host family will help solve many problems, if you have any matter that you are not sure how to handle, please contact the Housing Coordinator immediately.  If you have conflict with your host family, please do not try to handle it yourself, seek advise from the International Student Office. 
Our Housing Coordinator is happy to assist you!  You can contact the Housing Coordinator, Ms. Kristen Nelson at or visit our office!
Open communication is most important when staying with a host family!