By Greg Rowe
A recent article described UCD grants to homeless students. This program treats the symptom and not the cause: UCD’s continued failure to construct affordable campus housing matching enrollment growth.
Last year the Chancellor appointed an Affordable Student Housing Task Force, which was guided by the assumption that improving housing affordability “…is part of the campus’s fundamental responsibility to students.” The June 2018 task force report had 15 recommendations, some which would directly boost housing affordability.
Unfortunately, UCD has seemingly ignored the most meaningful recommendations, including:
- Increase the campus housing supply by providing more new beds than the 9,050 anticipated by 2030-31 under the 2018 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). “Our analysis of the available data suggests that the number needs to be even higher in order to reverse the trend toward unaffordable housing.”
- Limit enrollment increases: “The time has come for an era of much slower, incremental growth in the student population, enabling the campus to catch up with infrastructure needs, including housing, classroom space, and student support services.”
- Increase affordability by reducing costly amenities and constructing more housing in the central campus.
- Identify new funding sources to support student housing, including philanthropy. I suggested to UCD planners in 2017 that the campus should aggressively solicit alumni funding for on-campus housing. To date UCD has made no move in this direction. Apparently the new $40 million sports complex, largely funded by alumni, is more important than meeting the basic housing needs shared by the vast majority of non-athlete students.
Despite resolutions adopted by the City and Yolo County, the 2018 LRDP aims to house no more than 48% of the 39,000 students the LRDP expects in 2010-31. It also does nothing to address UCD’s failure to meet the on-campus housing goals of the Regents’ 2002 student housing report and the 2003 LRDP. If those goals had been met, perhaps there would be fewer poorly housed students today.