ASUC launches housing listing website targeted at students

Zichen Zhao/Staff

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The ASUC offices of Executive Vice President Helen Yuan and Senator Harshil Bansal, in partnership with CampusCribz, launched the ASUC Housing Database in March.

There are two primary features of the database, according to Bansal — the first is that the database has the ability to sort housing based on certain criteria, such as number of beds, number of bathrooms or price. The database also has an “Airbnb-style” map that allows students to see where their housing will be, Bansal said.

According to Bansal, the database is a partnership between the ASUC and CampusCribz, which was responsible for the creation of the database. CampusCribz is a national housing listing website catered to college students.

“We give (CampusCribz) a market of UC Berkeley students; they give us access to a resource,” Bansal said. “They lacked hits on their page. We saw, in our partnership, the capability for them to get more traction and for us get a free resource.”

The Facebook post advertising the housing portal has reached 17,000 people, and 1,394 have visited the database, according to Bansal.

ASUC Senator Connor Hughes, who is working on a housing deposit program for low-income students, said he has accessed the database and that it is effective in gathering housing availabilities in the area.

“As a member of the ASUC, I like when the ASUC is able to help students in a really tangible way,” Hughes said. “It’s a little more digestible than searching through a Facebook group or Facebook page.”

Having the database linked on the ASUC website is very effective, according to Hughes, who said it has the potential to be a great resource. He added that the ASUC is working on other initiatives to make housing more accessible but that this database is its biggest effort in trying to connect students with currently available housing.

ASUC Senator-elect Aaron Bryce Lee said he and several of his friends have also accessed the database. He said the database is easy to use and is “a step in the right direction.”

“It will kind of clarify the housing search in terms of the market and market prices,” Lee said. “It will give students a better gauge of how to budget, what to look for, where to look. … It’s a good monitor.”

Bansal said the developers of the database are working on a screening tool to prevent students from being scammed and that they are also hoping to add a reporting option for students who think they are being scammed. He added that the database is distinct from the campus-provided Cal Rentals because the ASUC database will focus on all sorts of housing, whereas Cal Rentals focuses mostly on luxury housing, according to Bansal.

The developers will continue to work on the database in the fall and will relaunch in spring 2019, Bansal said.

“My primary goal is accessibility,” Bansal said. “Basically, our anticipated impact is answering the question, ‘How do we look for housing?’… This is the question that most first-year students ask in January, February, March. It is the same over the years, again and again.”

Contact Ella Colbert at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @colbert_ella.