The Associated Students Isla Vista Tenants’ Union (IVTU), which spent several months “couch surfing” after experiencing housing problems of its own, is getting ready to start serving local renters from its brand-new home in downtown I.V.
Kara Nostrand, Student Housing Co-op executive director, said IVTU will move into the space above Grafikart on Pardall Road in early February. IVTU was temporarily located in the MultiCultural Center after the organization left its original location at 970 Embarcadero del Mar due to problems with frequent break-ins and a landlord that kept raising the building’s rent, Nostrand said. The organization is moving in with the A.S. Legal Resource Center, Nostrand said, and now students can get information about renting and leasing, in addition to legal advice, at the same location.
A.S. External Vice President of Local Affairs Kelly Burns said she thinks the move will help make IVTU’s resources more readily available to I.V. residents.
“We wanted a location where people who are not necessarily comfortable on campus can come as well,” Burns said. “It’s important for people to know we’re here; it’s important to be accessible… Hopefully, people will see the Tenants’ Union and use it more.”
The move will also help IVTU be more visible in the community, Nostrand said. She said the group needs more members in order to accomplish all of its goals and moving the office to a central location in I.V. might help entice more people to attend IVTU’s meetings and events.
“I think visibility is key,” Nostrand said. “I hope we’ll get more people interested in the Tenants’ Union, Without extra membership, it’s hard to pull off campaigns and other types of projects.”
IVTU will share its new space with the Legal Resource Center – an organization that provides free legal counseling to UCSB students. Nostrand said it will be convenient for students to have access to both resources in the same building, since the Tenants’ Union provides information about disputes and contracts between landlords and tenants, and the Legal Resource Center can offer legal advice about the same issues.
“[It’s] a perfect match, because the Tenants’ Union can’t technically give legal advice,” Nostrand said.
The IVTU, which was created five years ago, serves as a resource for students and other I.V. renters dealing with problems with local landlords. The group also functions as an advocate of renters’ rights and tries to find long-term solutions to issues such as inflated rent prices and poor housing quality.