The Cooper Housing Institute awarded a $50,000 grant to UC Santa Barbara to fund the new Housing Advocate Program and support the Housing Voucher Program on campus.
The nonprofit foundation, founded in 2018, has supported various campus programs in the past that tackle issues of student housing availability, according to UCSB Media Relations Manager Kiki Reyes.
“Will and Jennifer Cooper, parents of a UC Santa Barbara alumna, have worked in the area of affordable housing and have supported a variety of campus initiatives, including the UC Santa Barbara Housing Voucher Program,” Reyes said in an email statement to the Nexus. “Their family foundation, the Cooper Housing Institute, worked with our Basic Needs Resources on their most recent gift to campus.”
The new Housing Advocate program will hire two student employees to work with and provide resources to students experiencing housing insecurity, according to Reyes. The student employees will operate housing workshops and special projects to help students find housing and manage housing applications.
The Housing Voucher program provides students with vouchers worth $50, $150 or $500 for different housing emergencies and food insecurity.
“The university is excited about the partnership with Cooper Housing Institute and is deeply grateful for this gift, which will benefit our students,” Reyes said.
Approximately 6% of UCSB students have lacked a safe, regular and suitable place to stay at night, according to data from the UC Information Center collected in 2020 and 2021.
This survey data also found that 50% of UCSB students experience some anxiety about paying for housing and 15% feel anxious every month according to the survey. Almost half – 49% – of UCSB students have trouble focusing on their studies at some point due to insecurity about housing.
In 2021, UCSB faced a housing crisis that saw over 1,000 students looking for housing as the school year began, a result of a severe lack of affordable student housing in the area.
“Students who are facing an emergency housing crisis and have exhausted all other financial options, including subsidized but necessarily unsubsidized loans, may be eligible for vouchers which can be applicable towards both on-campus and off-campus living arrangements,” according to the UCSB Basic Needs Resource Guides.
A version of this article appeared on p. __ of the Sept. 22, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.