September 30, 2022
To tackle a housing shortage that has left tens of thousands of students without stable places to live, California college leaders must try some new and innovative solutions in design, construction and financing, experts and students told an EdSource roundtable on Thursday.
In addition to building many new traditional campus dorms, other solutions could include sharing construction and tenancy with community organizations, giving subsidies to students for off-campus rent and converting existing campus facilities such as administrative buildings into residences, panelists said Thursday during the virtual EdSource event on the topic. When colleges build new housing, they should also consider sharing those facilities with nearby institutions in other systems, such as possible partnerships between community colleges and Cal State campuses, panelists added.
“I think what we have to really remember is that there’s no one strategy to address this housing issue,” said Rashida Crutchfield, associate professor in the School of Social Work at California State University, Long Beach. “We have to have a myriad of options for students.”
Finding answers to the housing crisis is an urgent need for California colleges and universities. About 5% of University of California students, 10% of California State University students and 20% of California community college students have reported being homeless or housing insecure at some point in their education, according to a state Assembly report.
Because most UC and CSU campuses don’t guarantee housing for all four years — and in some cases don’t guarantee it to any students — students are often left to fend for themselves in such difficult rental markets as Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Cruz. The housing supply in those areas is typically low and prices are high.
Among the students who have struggled to find affordable housing near their campuses is Ethan Kaplan, a fifth-year student at CSU Northridge in Los Angeles County. Monthly rent at the apartment Kaplan lived in last year has since jumped about $1,000 per month, forcing him and his roommates to move out.