UC Santa Barbara students have relied on the 2&2 plan for years — a housing program that guarantees undergraduates two years of housing in campus apartments, so long as they spend their first and second years living in the residence halls. Put on hold during the pandemic, that program and similar housing guarantees won’t return until more campus housing is added, according to UCSB Media Relations Manager Kiki Reyes.
“It is currently not possible to offer a 4-year guarantee considering the increased interest in university housing we have seen recently,” Reyes said in an email statement to the Nexus. “We hope to be able to offer such options in the future when additional beds are added to our inventory.”
Testimonials on the 2&2 program’s website underlined its importance to the student community.
“In my 2nd year I still wanted to live on campus and I didn’t want to go through the hassle of looking for an apartment,” read one student testimonial. “I found it was convenient that I was guaranteed two years in the UCSB apartments that seemed cheaper and much less hassle than trying to find a place in IV or Goleta.”
A message appeared on the site in summer 2020, explaining that “given the uncertainty around the current public health crisis,” UCSB would be unable to provide housing guarantees “at this time.”
The disclaimer remained there through summer 2021, up until the site was taken down entirely.
Under the absence of a housing guarantee, students who planned to live in campus housing have been denied contracts and left to seek out pricier apartments in and around Isla Vista. UCSB encouraged students to start their housing searches early and offered a rental listing service along with Housing 101 Workshops to help students struggling to find housing.
Other University of California campuses suspended their housing guarantees at the outset of the pandemic. In efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, UC San Diego allowed students to only reside in singles and doubles, but not triples, leaving them with fewer bed spaces leading to the housing guarantee suspension.
UCSD announced last month that its housing guarantees would be phased back in, taking full effect in Fall Quarter 2023 when 2,000 undergrad beds are set to be added upon the opening of its Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood.
UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Davis and UC Merced all featured a form of housing guarantee as students returned this fall. Only UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside and UCSB did not.
UCLA recently became the first UC to provide four years of housing to all undergrads that request it.
At UCSB, the lack of guarantees is just one of the struggles from the shortfall of available campus housing, which has spurred lawsuits from the City of Goleta and Santa Barbara County. In response to the latest lawsuit, UCSB pointed to “recently completed projects” that added 1,500 student bed spaces, referring to the San Joaquin and Sierra Madre Villages that were completed five and six years ago, respectively.
Like UCSD, UCSB needs more student housing to be built before guarantees can fully return. The university has touted Munger Hall — set to add over 4,500 student beds if constructed — as the campus’ answer to its student housing obligations.
That planned dormitory won’t be completed until at least 2026, and in the absence of other new housing, it’s unclear when guarantees will return.
A version of this article appeared on p.3 of the Sept. 22, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.