UC Berkeley students raise concerns over summer, fall housing in light of COVID-19

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Due to the COVID-19, or the coronavirus, pandemic, UC Berkeley students’ concerns about summer and fall housing have risen while the number of reservations for off-campus housing has dropped.

Students have expressed concern about looking for housing while not being in Berkeley, according to ASUC Senator Liam Will. As a decision has not yet been made about whether or not fall semester classes will be remote, Will added that students are wondering when they should commit to a housing contract and how possible repayment plans might be communicated to landlords online.

“This may not be perfect, and uncertainties can contribute to anxiety, although for any problems that arise from housing agreements I encourage students to contact free legal services from the campus,” Will said in an email. “Landlords & UC Berkeley housing must work to accomodate students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Campus freshman Shaun Stephen is hoping to wait another month before he starts to look for off-campus housing for the fall semester in case housing prices drop. Stephen added, however, that he is worried that spaces will fill up if he doesn’t commit to a housing arrangement soon.

According to Stephen, it has become increasingly difficult to find roommates as students are worried that the fall semester will be moved online.

“This will affect small companies like Kapi Residences greatly if we are unable to fill the vacancies that are currently growing from students moving out,” said Shelby MacNeil, student housing and leasing manager at Kapi Residences, in an email.

Off-campus student housing companies such as Kapi Residences have noticed a decline in reservations for both summer and fall, according to MacNeil.

Kapi Residences is no longer offering in-person tours, and most apartment listings are available for viewing on its website through online 3D tours, MacNeil added.

According to Stephen, virtual tours cannot show everything about an apartment.

“In terms of how big it actually is, you’ll never know until you get there, so that’s kind of a worry,” Stephen said.

Although campus announced that summer session classes have been moved online, UC Berkeley is working to assist students who wish to live near or on campus during the summer, according to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff.

Cal Housing, in partnership with other campus offices such as Berkeley Summer Sessions, is working to ensure that summer housing is available for students “potentially impacted” by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ratliff said in an email.

“We understand that this is a hard time for everyone including students, parents, businesses (big and small),” MacNeil said in an email. “We are all human and doing the best we can to make it through this together.”

Olivia González-Britt is a student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Oliviagbritt.