California sets aside $500M to grow affordable housing for students

Dive Brief: 

  • California lawmakers approved a bill earlier this month that would set aside $500 million in the 2022 fiscal year to expand affordable housing options for students attending the state’s public universities and community colleges. 
  • The bill will devote half of the one-time grant funding to community colleges, 30% to the California State University system and 20% to the University of California system. Campuses will submit their affordable student housing projects by October. 
  • The proposed legislation also would cap rent for low-income students to an amount based on the area’s median income. Only full-time students will be eligible for the rental properties developed under the grants. 

Dive Insight: 

The bill is meant to address a severe housing crunch that California’s college students face. More than one-third of college students in the state said they experienced some form of housing insecurity — such as unstable living conditions or the inability to pay rent or utilities — according to a 2019 survey from the California Student Aid Commission. 

The housing shortage can be felt across California’s public colleges. A recent report presented to California State’s trustees estimated that roughly 18,000 students had unmet housing needs. And UC, San Diego, said over the summer it had run out of housing, waitlisting some 3,200 students for rooms. 

Affordable housing shortages pervade other parts of the nation. Nearly half of students surveyed in 2020 said they’d experienced housing insecurity in the past year, according to The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice’s latest annual report on college students’ basic needs. 

However, while California’s plan will put more money behind growing affordable housing, experts told CalMatters it’s only a fraction of what’s needed to solve the problem. Gov. Gavin Newsom initially pitched $4 billion to put toward the issue. 

The final bill halves that amount. The bill will put $500 million toward the program this year and says lawmakers intend to allocate $750 million in each of the following two years, for a total of $2 billion. 

Some schools are already attempting to create more affordable housing, though not all projects have achieved the scale needed to address the issue. Imperial Valley College, a two-year school, finished building around two-dozen tiny homes earlier this year for students experiencing housing insecurity. 

And UCLA is constructing several new buildings that will be able to provide housing for an additional 5,000 students, though the project price tag is steep, at roughly $900 million, according to a local media report.

Leave a Comment