UC Board of Regents committee discusses student housing, financial needs

Sam Albillo/Staff

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On Tuesday, the UC Board of Regents’ Special Committee on Basic Needs met at UCSF to discuss housing, food and financial insecurity for students across UC campuses.

The meeting began with a presentation on financial literacy education available at different UC campuses. Cruz Grimaldo, assistant vice chancellor and director of Financial Aid and Scholarships at UC Berkeley said providing good financial literacy is a “guiding mission” for the campus. 

Grimaldo said it is important for advisers to provide students with individually focused guidance. Darren Chow, a campus junior and peer mentor for Bears for Financial Success, shared how the program is helping give students financial advice and confidence through one-on-one meetings, workshops and by hosting the annual Financial Wellness Day.

“If we want to provide students with short-term stability and long-term success, (financial literacy education) is the education we need,” Chow said at the meeting.

Regents asked the presenters about how they are measuring the success of their programs, especially in regard to the UC’s goals to reduce food and housing insecurity.

Suzanna Martinez, an assistant adjunct professor at UCSF, spoke at the meeting about the research she led to investigate and improve surveys on housing insecurity across the UC system. Between February and March 2019, a “diverse” group of 58 students from multiple UC campuses participated in a study to help suggest modifications to the current survey and explore issues of UC student housing insecurity and homelessness.

Martinez said that based on her research, new questions were developed for the housing insecurity survey, including topics such as rent responsibility, consequences of housing insecurity and transportation.

“We expect to complete this analysis and report by the end of summer and have a new report ready by the end of fall,” Martinez said at the meeting. “Findings from this research will be used to estimate homelessness and housing insecurity among UC students and identify critical intervention points so we can better assist students in finding stable and secure housing.”

At the end of the meeting, presenters shared the final state budget for 2019-20, which included $15 million in ongoing funding to address food and housing insecurity among UC students and an additional $3.5 million in ongoing funding to support “the rapid rehousing of homeless and housing insecure students,” according to the agenda.

According to the associate vice president of budget analysis and planning for the UC Office of the President, David Alcocer, these funds would allow for an increase in the resources available at each UC campus, with specific allocations to be based on “Stability,” “Alignment,” “Innovation” and “Accountability” for each campus.

“The funds are provided on an ongoing basis, which will allow campuses to make longer-term investments than they’ve been able to in the past, and also enable longer- term evaluations to determine which programs and services are most effective in helping students,” Alcocer said at the meeting.

Contact Ella Langenthal at [email protected].