California Assemblymember Kevin McCarty proposed a bill that would provide $5 billion to the UC, CSU and California Community Colleges systems to construct affordable housing for students, faculty and staff.
The California Student Housing Revolving Loan Fund Act of 2022, or AB 1602, seeks to address both the housing crisis and the issue of college affordability in California. According to a press release from McCarty’s office, the proposed bill would create about 25,000 beds worth of student housing available at below-market rental rates.
“UC Berkeley, like many other UC, CSU, and CCC campuses across California, suffers from a severe undersupply of student housing and struggles to guarantee on-campus housing for its undergraduate students,” said Rigel Robinson, Berkeley City Council member, in an email.
According to Robinson, UC Berkeley has the lowest percentage of beds available for its students among all of the UC campuses.
Robinson added that the issue is compounded by the Bay Area housing crisis, which makes finding affordable off-campus housing more difficult.
“This crisis affects not only students, but also long-term residents who face increased competition for housing, resulting in gentrification and displacement,” Robinson said in the email.
According to the press release, almost half of the students at CSU campuses and 40% of students attending UC schools are low-income. The bill would prioritize campuses with high demand for student housing and accelerated construction timelines.
The bill requires campus housing construction projects to be within a 5-mile radius of the campus and to offer at least 50% of available housing to students who are eligible for need-based financial aid.
“Despite the campus administration’s efforts in recent years to build more student housing, more support from the state is critical,” Robinson said in the email. “The $5 billion in zero-interset loans provided by AB 1602 represent a solution that matches the scale of the problem.”
Since the bill was recently introduced to the legislature, it needs to undergo the legislative process before campus takes any action, explained Ryan King, a spokesperson from the UC Office of the President.
In the meantime, the Berkeley City Council wrote a letter of support to McCarty outlining the need for the funding and for affordable student housing.
According to the letter, “The Berkeley City Council would like to convey our full support for Assembly Bill 1602, which would provide much-needed funding for efforts to alleviate California’s student housing crisis.”
Emma Taila also contributed to this report.