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Housing crisis is so dire that UC Santa Cruz begs faculty to house students

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“Offering a room in your home to a student who has not been able to find housing for the school year would be a tremendous support to their success at UCSC”

Photo by Wayne Hsieh

Even students granted admission into one of the University of California’s pricey colleges aren’t guaranteed a place to call home. Take, for example, the mess happening at UCSC.

Last week the school sent out an urgent email to roughly 6,000 faculty and staff members begging faculty and staff to housing incoming students unable to find a home.

“The need is real and it is urgent, so I am reaching out to the faculty and staff community for help,” wrote Dave Keller, executive director of housing service. “Offering a room in your home to a student who has not been able to find housing for the school year would be a tremendous support to their success at UCSC.”

According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the school offers on-campus to roughly 9,300 students—i.e., 50 percent of the entire student body.

The school offered admission to 35,000 students this year, and expects to enroll about 5,600 new undergraduates. After facing criticism for failing to admit enough transfer students, Santa Cruz admitted more than 7,000 this year, up from around 5,300 the previous year.

All of those students will need someplace to live. And while living on campus at UCSC is relatively expensive compared to housing costs at many other UC and CSU schools, living off campus isn’t cheap, either.

The school year starts September 22 and hundreds of students remain on a waitlist for housing. And rental costs off-campus are on the rise due in large part to the town’s close proximity to Silicon Valley. According to Rent Cafe, the average rent for a studio is $1,255 and a one-bedroom is $2,138. Ouch.

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While students bunk with faculty, the school is trying to build more housing. One plan is to create a new on-campus residential called Student Housing West, which would be built on a meadow that was originally meant to remain undeveloped, according to SFGate.

However, this plan to house students has been met with NIMBY ire—most notably from tenured humanities professor Jim Clifford, who, inexplicably, derided the expansion as “a radical break with 50 years of design history and practice on the campus.”