ASUC set to vote on reestablishing housing commission

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The ASUC Senate is set to vote at its April 29 meeting on SR 19/20-069, which would reestablish a nonpartisan housing commission that previously advocated for affordable student housing.

The renewed commission would aim to bring more transparency and communication between UC Berkeley administration and the student body regarding campus housing projects, according to Austine Peng, a campus sophomore co-sponsoring the resolution. The commission will also focus on increasing support for homeless and low-income students.

“The students will get to choose what housing projects and initiatives they get to support in regards to resolving the housing crisis,” said Simon Han, a campus sophomore also co-sponsoring the senate resolution. “The end goal of that is more transparency and more knowledge of what’s going on because we feel like that’s a very big gap that exists right now.”

The commission will additionally collaborate with campus and city groups, such as the People’s Park community, Berkeley Outreach Coalition and partners of the Suitcase Clinic, to advocate for the preservation of public spaces, according to Anuroop Nirula, a campus junior co-sponsoring the resolution.

Current ASUC Diversity Affairs Commission chair and President-elect Victoria Vera alleged in an email that building on People’s Park may not produce affordable housing for students and would push out the unhoused community.

“People’s Park is an important space for many that live in Berkeley. It is symbolic of the radical change that UC Berkeley is known for,” Vera said in the email. “With that being said, I believe that we should be taking steps to preserve the space for its historical legacy and modern-day usage.”

The housing commission was previously suspended during the 2019-20 academic year due to a lack of documented business meetings and progress submissions, according to Peng.

The commission will most likely be composed of a nonpartisan chair and interns, according to ASUC Senator Liam Will. The resolution will be evaluated by the ASUC Governance and Internal Affairs Committee and voted on by about six senators. If passed, according to Will, the ASUC Senate will then vote on the resolution at its April 29 meeting.

Will added that commission meetings would focus on centralized housing advocacy and aim to build a stronger partnership with Cal Housing, especially with growing concerns over annual increases in admitted students and rising housing prices due to increased competition.

“Through the continued advocacy of the space, we want to connect with more people and have more spaces,” Peng said. “There’s a lot of students on campus as well that face housing insecurity and we want to make sure that, as a student government, we do cater towards those voices and make sure everyone is heard.”

Contact Olivia Buccieri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @obuccieri_dc‏.