Campus students rally for affordable student housing Friday

Karin Goh/Senior Staff

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About 20 students rallied Friday to demand affordable student housing, as part of the ASUC-sponsored Housing and Tenants’ Rights Week.

The rally, held on the steps of Sproul Hall, was organized by the ASUC Student Housing Committee created by the ASUC External Affairs Vice President’s Office. It capped off a week of workshops and events meant to inform students and pressure the campus to create more affordable housing, according to Chris Yamas, ASUC Housing Affairs manager.

“We are here to demand that we get the proper treatment that we deserve, that we get the student housing that we need, so that we can afford to live here and to be students here without going into massive student debt,” Yamas said.

Matthew Lewis, the ASUC director of local affairs and chair of the ASUC Student Housing Committee, said that the average percentage of undergraduates living on campus for UC campuses was about 37 percent and that UC Berkeley was the lowest for undergraduates at 25 percent.

According to city Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, the lack of student housing exerts more pressure on the rental housing market in Berkeley, making it more difficult for nonstudents to find housing.

All freshmen would be offered on-campus housing, Adam Ratliff, communications manager for student affairs, said in an email, as well as a fraction of transfer students. He also said that if completed in about 18 months as proposed, the Stiles Hall housing project would provide housing for about 770 students.

Stiles Hall’s approximately 770 beds would not be enough to accommodate the students arriving in the future, said Boomer Vicente, an ASUC senator and member of the Student Housing Committee, especially with the increased enrollment of 750 freshmen and transfer students next year alone.

According to an email from Ratliff, the campus has looked into creative housing solutions, such as off-campus housing in nearby areas. Additionally, the UC Office of the President announced in January the Student Housing Initiative, geared toward providing 14,000 additional beds to UC campuses by 2020.

“I think we need to acknowledge that the president has made a commitment to build thousands of units of student housing,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “We need to praise President (Janet) Napolitano.”

On March 8, Berkeley City Council will vote on whether to send a letter to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks demanding that the campus develop a plan to address students’ housing needs, Arreguin said. He added that City Council will also call on the state Legislature to provide more funding for university student housing.

Contact Shradha Ganapathy at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sganapathy_dc.

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  • Kurt VanderKoi

    Hey, I have an idea! If you want affordable housing don’t live in the Bay Area.

    In some areas along the coast like the Bay Area the cost of housing is EXTREMELY high. Costs are low up north in places like Eureka and Arcata. Housing in the inland areas such as Sacramento, Merced, etc. is
    affordable. San Luis Obispo is more affordable than the Bay Area.

    If you are a student check out housing costs around:
    – Cal Poly
    – UC Merced

  • Gene Nelson

    20? that’s all who protested.

  • Alex

    Berkeley built almost no new housing from 1970-1990, what did you expect to finally happen?

    • That’s false.

      Berkeley built almost no new housing from 1970-1990, what did you expect to finally happen?

      That is one of the biggest lies going around in Berkeley these days.

      The truth is that when 1970 hit, the population of Berkeley started fall rapidly. By 1980, the population was 10% smaller. More than 13,000 people left town. The number of households shrank by 800 and the number of people per household fell.

      MANY units were built in that decade and many left the market. Overall there was a slight net GAIN of 174 units.

      Got that? Demand went down 1970-1980. The supply went up, slightly.

      The next decade, 1980 to 1990, the vacancy rate rose from 3.6% to 5.0%. The population stayed relatively flat. This gain was mostly an increase in supply.

      Finally after 1990 demand picked up and prices started to go up ridiculously. Construction picked up again.

      In fact, by 2010 the vacancy rate in Berkeley was 6.9%.

      By 2010 the vacancy rate in Berkeley was the highest it had been in FOUR DECADES.

      Do not let the false rumors spread in the name of real estate speculation guide your thinking.

      Berkeley does not have a housing supply problem. Berkeley has an income inequality problem.

      • lspanker

        What you call “real estate speculation” is simply supply and demand.

        • What you call “real estate speculation” is simply supply and demand.

          In no school of economics is that a coherent sentence, lspanker. What are you trying to say?

          Do you deny that investing in real estate and development projects has risk?

          Do you understand what the word “speculation” means?

          Do you understand what kinds of risk mitigation tactics are popular among real estate speculators (e.g., political manipulation to obtain public subsidy or to thwart public policy goals)?

          Do you understand what a credit bubble is?

          Really, I welcome other points of view but you need to actually put one forward.

  • Campus activists should figure into their reasoning:

    1. Student demand is guaranteed, year after year, and is a substantial fraction of the total amount of rent paid in Berkeley. Private landlords will over-crowd you, under-serve you, and gauge you because they can.

    2. Conversely, that means students control a lot of the money that pours into Berkeley, both as rents and as other spending. If students become capable of organizing boycotts and strikes, you will be politically formidable, rather than having to complain and beg to the administration, City, and State.

    3. Cal ALUMNI represent a very plausible source of many millions in financing and grants for any well conceived, progressive approach to the housing problem. That does *not* need to “go through” the Regents or through UCOP or through the Chancellor’s office any more than The Daily Cal needs to rely on those powers.

    Students can organize to acquire, build, and operate housing separately from the university. You have the economic power to do it. You lack only the political organization and will.

  • Del_Varner

    Hey, how about using that drug ridden enpty lot know as “People’s Park” to build dorms. Oh, that’s right, that was its original intended use.

    • lspanker

      That would be too logical, wouldn’t it? Apparently the typical Cal student today has no grasp of how students actually suffer from many of the causes they actively support, such as rent control and free squatting space for the homeless.

    • Haw. This guy thinks that Cal over-enrolls and landlords over-crowd and gauge “because People’s Park”.

      The ghosts of J. Edgar Hoover and Ronald Reagan live on.

      • Del_Varner


        • Troll

          That’s “anti-fascist” to you, bub.

          • Del_Varner

            Probably a Che Guevara fan as well.

          • lspanker

            “Anti-fascist”, my @ss. You’re just as much of an autocratic control freak as any imaginary Berkeley “fascist” you can concoct in your imagination.

          • “Anti-fascist”, my @ss.

            I’m not the one whining like a submissive little prol for the state to purge poor people from our midst.

          • lspanker

            I’m not the one whining like a submissive little prol for the state to purge poor people from our midst.

            And who is?

          • And who is?

            Mostly anonymous profiles like yours and “Del Varner” – the sort that astroturf Berkeley-related news blogs. Collectively this group rides some hobby horses including:

            ~ anti-tenant, pro-real-estate-speculator advocacy
            ~ hate speech directed at homeless and other poor people
            ~ hate speech directed along racial lines, with various degrees of coding
            ~ amplification of crime hysteria
            ~ perpetuation of personal attacks on some Berkeleyans of a sort first initiated by some local extremists
            ~ propagation of nonsensical “economics” slogans
            ~ a general on-line harassment of left-of-center voices

            Every now and then actual named, non-anonymous Berkeleyans put forth similar positions but the dynamic of the discussion is much different since they must own their words.

            With literally billions of dollars in potential profit in play it is easy to understand how such a cowardly mob can be mustered, of course.