UC Berkeley must offer housing insecurity solutions as admittance continues to grow

letter to the editor
Willow Yang/File

As UC Berkeley alumni, we’re horrified that UC Berkeley has enrolled additional students without sufficiently planning for their housing. UC Berkeley allows more students to enter the university without a thought as to where they might live. Moreover, financial aid does not take into account the high rents in the area.

Surprise! We have homeless students!

We call on UC Berkeley administration and alumni to act now and alleviate the students’ plight.

  1. The housing office could offer a service to match students with Berkeley residents recruited to accommodate students in their homes. Campus and city staff might market the idea of housing students and provide workshops to cover how to do it safely. Currently, the housing office just acts like a real estate agent and lists places — it’s time to offer real services to both students and potential landlords. Although there is a pilot program for this, it is not in the housing department.
  2. The Cal Alumni Association could have an adopt-a-student program for alumni to offer housing in their homes, contribute to student rents, buy food cards for low-income students so they could eat on campus, etc.
  3. UC Berkeley could make its parking lots available at night to students living in their cars. It would be a safe place to park.
  4. Some campus buildings could have places that could be used as shelters for homeless students. Gyms? Meeting rooms? Why not have shelters on campus? Tents on the grass? Whatever it takes.
  5. UC Berkeley could contract with the co-ops to turn buildings near campus to affordable housing, like the housing at Pacific School of Religion. There are some very underutilized buildings near campus.

Time for UC Berkeley to be responsible for its students’ quality of life and work on their need for safe places to live, as well as their education. I hope students will take action on this and push our alumni to do so, too.

Margot Smith and Linda Franklin are UC Berkeley alumni.