Berkeley Global Campus working group subcommittee talks Richmond’s affordable housing

Ashlesha Kumar/Staff

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At a Thursday meeting, a housing and displacement subcommittee of the Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay Community Working Group presented recommendations to increase affordable housing options in the surrounding area of Richmond.

The working group, which brings together campus and Richmond city stakeholders, was created by UC Berkeley last September after Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced the creation of the Berkeley Global Campus, a collaborative higher education institution for research and public service that would bring together researchers from UC Berkeley and beyond.

According to Ruben Lizardo, director of local government and community relations at the chancellor’s office, the working group is a diverse space in which the campus and the community can collaborate to reach fair agreements that benefit both parties.

But since the announcement of the global campus, both UC Berkeley students and Richmond residents have raised concerns about possible gentrification in the area if the global campus were to be implanted in the Richmond community.

Jesus Galindo, a Richmond resident and local elementary school teacher, said at the meeting that he questioned the ability of the working group to benefit those in the community who need help the most.

“Last year, I had the privilege of teaching 28 amazing students,” Galindo said. “By the end of the year, four of them had to leave us because their parents could no longer afford the rent.”

In an attempt to mitigate concerns, the housing subcommittee suggested investing in an anti-displacement fund that would protect longtime residents of Richmond from eviction. The subcommittee also suggested organizing a housing linkage fee to generate funds that would ensure affordable housing options for more residents.

The Richmond Bay Specific Plan may include more than 4,000 housing units in order to maintain the supply of housing without any surge in prices. Richmond City Council will also vote next year on the implementation of a city rent-control ordinance.

“One thing that makes Richmond different is that the City Council is much more open than other communities to providing affordable housing,” said Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay.

Several city policies are already being considered, and a Nexus study to support an affordable housing linkage fee for rental units is in progress.

“Along with the campus leadership, we remain committed to a project that will be a considered a success only if it provides meaningful benefits for our students, faculty, international partners and neighbors in Richmond, as well as other regional communities,” said Rajiv Parikh, UC Berkeley assistant vice chancellor of real estate and interim development director for the global campus, in an email.

The community working group is preparing to finalize its recommendations for campus review by November.

Contact Jessica Lynn and Michelle Leung at [email protected].