At 1st meeting, Berkeley’s Student Housing Subcommittee commits to alleviating housing crisis

Aren Saunders-Gonzalez/Staff

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A new subcommittee under the city’s Housing Advisory Commission met for the first time Tuesday to discuss student housing.

Campus senior Matthew Lewis said he made a motion to the Housing Advisory Commission in June to create the Student Housing Subcommittee because he thought there should be a group specifically dedicated to addressing the student housing crisis. On Sept. 7, the Housing Advisory Commission passed the motion to create the subcommittee.

Two of the subcommittee’s three members attended the first meeting. Lewis, the subcommittee chair, was appointed by Mayor Jesse Arreguín, and campus alumnus Luis Amezcua was appointed by Councilmember Kate Harrison.

At the meeting, Lewis and Amezcua discussed what they felt the subcommittee should approach and explore over the course of the year. They talked about taking action on expanding the UC Berkeley co-ops, upzoning areas next to campus, creating housing that caters to students’ financial needs and increasing the Rent Stabilization Board’s presence on campus to educate students on rent and housing issues.

Lewis said he felt the process of taking action with regard to increasing student housing will be expedited with the subcommittee because students will no longer have to wait for the entire Housing Advisory Commission to address student housing issues. Subcommittee members will discuss these issues at each of its meetings.

“I hope it will allow us to expedite the process (of) telling the City Council what actions need to be taken to create affordable housing for students and bring these meetings closer to campus,” Lewis said. “This will definitely better address affordable housing for students.”

During the meeting, Lewis and Amezcua also discussed who they should collaborate with within the ASUC and campus administration. Lewis said he wanted to encourage students to attend the subcommittee’s regular meetings.

Harrison said in an email that the subcommittee will be a great addition to the community.

“The subcommittee is working to come up with innovative and practical ways of improving the state of student housing in Berkeley,” Harrison said in an email. “Ultimately, the University needs to do more to ensure that all of their students have a place to live.”

Contact Jessíca Jiménez at [email protected] and and follow her on Twitter at @jesscajimenez_dc.