ASUC Student Housing Committee discusses housing, tenant rights

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In light of the current student-housing shortage, the newly established ASUC Student Housing Committee met for the second time Friday to discuss plans to advocate for housing and tenant rights.

The committee, which was established in October, was created in an effort to prioritize student-housing issues within the ASUC, according to committee chair Matthew Lewis.

At the meeting, committee members discussed a possible recommendation to be included in the Student Housing Action Plan, which was included in the committee’s charter. Lewis said the committee will recommend a holistic plan to the ASUC for how to address UC Berkeley’s student-housing crisis in the coming years.

The committee is considering several potential solutions to address the campus’s housing shortage, such as constructing additional buildings in the courtyards of Unit 1 and Unit 2 and earmarking parts of the university budget to building more affordable housing.

Possible steps the committee hopes the campus will make include creating transfer-student floors in dorms to allow for new students to live among others with similar academic backgrounds.

“Every transfer student I talk to has talked about the need to have transfer floors,” said Chris Yamas, ASUC housing affairs manager at the meeting. “Their whole floor is freshmen and sophomore (students) and it really makes them feel more isolated.”

The committee also discussed plans for a Housing and Tenants’ Rights Week, tentatively scheduled from Feb. 8-13, and a possible large public event to bring awareness to student-housing issues.

“The goal is to make sure that students know what their rights are as well as to promote organizations and projects that are working to make housing better for students,” Lewis said.

The week will tentatively include workshops hosted by the city’s Rent Stabilization Board to counsel students planning to rent privately on what to look out for in leases. The committee hopes to hold these workshops on campus, at the UC Berkeley student co-ops and residence hall common areas to provide convenient locations for students.

According to Lewis, the committee intends to reach out to other advocacy organizations to advise students currently renting in the city on how to file complaints and save money.

“If you live in a rent controlled unit (and) then if your washing machine breaks and your landlord doesn’t pay to fix it, it is a reduction in service and you are entitled to a decrease in your rent,” Lewis said.

The committee is looking into possibly meeting weekly once the spring semester starts, according to Lewis.

Contact Amelia Mineiro at [email protected].