SANTA CRUZ (KPIX) — A housing crisis has prompted University of California, Santa Cruz officials to ask faculty and staff to consider renting rooms to students.
UC Santa Cruz admitted thousands of additional students this year after being harshly criticized for not admitting enough students. Now, the annual problem of students finding a place to live is worse, with hundreds of students on waitlists for campus housing.
In an email to around 6,000 UC Santa Cruz faculty and staff members, Executive Director of Housing Services David Keller stated that there are currently “several hundred students without housing guarantees on the waiting list for housing.”
Keller added that there aren’t nearly enough community rental listings available to accommodate the increased number of students. Since Santa Cruz is made up of mostly single family homes, the university is looking at all other housing options.
“The need is real and it is urgent, so I am reaching out to the faculty and staff community for help,” said Keller in the letter. “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.”
A quick scan through the university’s Community Rentals Office database reveals only 172 available units. This means that if more rentals don’t come up on the market soon, hundreds of students arriving in the coming weeks will be on waitlists with no place to live.
UC Santa Cruz senior Leon Pham said that after a massive search, he finally found a place to live, but not for cheap. He and his roommates will pay $1,100 each per month for their own small rooms in a shared house.
“Landlords are kind of jacking up the prices because they know about this,” explained Pham. “I’ve actually talked to about 30, 40 landlords… It’s crazy out there.”
UC Santa Cruz spokesperson Scott Hernandez-Jason said that as rent in Silicon Valley shot up, people have been driving over the hill to Santa Cruz to search for more affordable housing, driving up demand.
“A lot of those houses may have an extra room that someone hadn’t been considering renting, and maybe this email will get them thinking ‘OK, let me rent it out this year and see how it goes,'” said Hernandez-Jason.
A plan to build 3,000 new housing units on the west side of campus is in the works, but it is still years away from completion.
When asked about the appropriateness of a professor renting out a room to a student, Hernandez-Jason didn’t object to the idea.
“You know, we have campus policies that govern the conduct of students and professors, and we have mechanisms to investigate any problems that might arise in those sorts of situations.”
But students like Leon Pham disagreed about potentially living with professors.
“I don’t know, I just can’t picture myself doing it. I’d rather not do it,” said Pham. “Yeah, a little bit too weird.”