The Associated Students Isla Vista Community Relations Committee (IVCRC) held a public forum on Isla Vista housing at the Pardall Center Thursday night as part of “I.V. Week,” a series of events created to draw attention to issues related to history, culture, environment, housing and community in I.V.
During Thursday’s event, attendees shared their experiences renting in I.V. and discussed challenges they have faced with housing prices, management and availability. Attendees then brainstormed various I.V. housing issues to send to university administration and local government officials, including overcrowded housing, rising rental costs, unresponsive landlords and poorly maintained buildings.
Forum organizer and second-year history major Paola Villegas said she thinks the university is out of touch with housing issues in I.V. and wants to take sentiments expressed at the forum to administrators.
“There’s a sense, at least from what I’ve heard, that the university doesn’t think there’s a housing crisis in Isla Vista,” Villegas said. “We want to gather stories and facts to show them that there really is a housing crisis.”
I.V. Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) board member and second-year history of public policy major Paola De La Cruz said communication between administrators and I.V. residents about housing issues in I.V. is crucial to prompting change.
“There are many of them [administrators] who believe that there is no housing crisis in Isla Vista,” De La Cruz said. “What we need to do now is really voice our personal issues and list demands for them to address and things that we can do. I don’t think we need someone to come in and save us. This is why we’re meeting here, for us to just do things.”
Citing her personal experience with housing problems in I.V. as an example, De La Cruz said she was denied a lease because of her parents’ citizenship status when she tried to rent in I.V.
“Both of my parents are residents, they’re not citizens, and for one of the applications they had to be citizens so my application was denied,” De La Cruz said. “I remember complaining, ‘Why would you reject my applications simply because my parents are residents?’ I am a citizen.”
Fourth-year history major and IVCRC external chair Daniela Bayon said she has experienced insect infestations and unresponsive apartment management while renting in I.V.
“I had cockroaches in my second-year apartment and they kept blaming us as tenants even though we didn’t keep trash in the apartment,” Bayon said. “They said, ‘Oh, we sprayed,’ even though they couldn’t provide proof that they engaged in any type of corrective action to make our housing more sanitary.”
According to Bayon, one possible strategy to solving challenges regarding housing issues in I.V. is to educate students about I.V. housing rights before renting.
“Maybe during orientation or at the end of students living in the dorms the university [the university] could send out an email or have a training with documents,” Bayon said, “Because the Isla Vista Tenants Union does have all these documents ready and it might be the case that the university can make a publicity campaign regarding knowing your rights as tenants.”