California lawmakers are attempting to ease the burden of housing costs for students at the University of California and the California State Universities.
The California Legislature passed a general obligation-housing bond that would provide funding for student housing on UC and CSU campuses throughout the state. The Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2002 would provide $2.1 billion in national funds for various state housing programs, ranging from housing for homeless seniors and battered women, to first-time homeownership and down payment assistance. It includes $15 million for the development of low-income student housing.
If approved by voters in this November’s election, it would be the first time state bond money has gone towards student housing.
“There are places in California, and University areas where students end up sleeping in their cars or at friends’ houses just for a safe haven at night,” said Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson, one of 24 co-authors of the bill. “This, of course, impacts one’s ability to learn, our ability to teach, and has a negative effect on the importance of learning, which is so important to this university.”
According to Jackson, the bill would encourage the UC and CSU to develop additional housing programs for low-income students by matching every dollar the university puts toward housing with money from the national bond.
These programs would include construction and renovation of housing either directly on campus or within a mile radius. She cited the expense cost of living for students as inspiration for creating the bill.
“I don’t think anyone in this community can argue that we have a serious housing problem,” Jackson said. “When the cost of a one bedroom apartment goes for $1,000 or more, we are putting our students in a critical situation.”
Although the bond would divide up the $15 million among the 10 UC and 23 CSU campuses, leaving an almost insignificant amount for any one campus -UCSB’s latest-planned housing, the San Clemente building, is a $123 million project – UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang said the proposal was an encouraging step.
“Finding creative solutions to housing problems is a challenge to any campus,” Yang said. “I’m reassured by the California State Legislature’s recognition of the importance of the challenge of student housing issues and I very much appreciate Assemblymember Jackson’s concern of the issues on campus.”
While many questions have emerged concerning the lack of available building space in Isla Vista, Associated Students Internal Vice-President Shaina Walter said that the bond will be especially helpful to local students.
“I think the effects are going to be incredible, especially to this campus,” she said. “Of course, the money is available to all the campuses, but because of the language of the bond – which basically describes Isla Vista, an area with a housing shortage, with little to no developable land available – I think that it’s going to enable developers to create more low-cost housing for students.”