UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ revealed plans in 2018 to renovate People’s Park into new student and supportive housing.
Now, the development has begun — although a stay order has temporarily halted construction. The new housing structures planned at People’s Park would add approximately 1,100 beds of on-campus, below-market-rate housing at UC Berkeley, according to campus.
These units will allow a greater number of sophomores, juniors and seniors to live in campus housing. Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof noted in an email that campus’s plans for the housing development, along with those to preserve green space within the lot, were approved by the Board of Regents in September 2021.
Mogulof said in an email that the newly constructed apartments will have no impact on student housing prices. He added that these prices are independent of private market rates — instead, they are determined primarily by budget needs, including labor, operation and maintenance costs of the campus.
“Housing in the Bay Area is one of the most expensive markets in the nation,” Mogulof said in an email. “Our strategy is to keep campus housing rates as consistent as possible, with predictable and incremental increases to adjust for inflation.”
According to UC Berkeley’s housing website, a double apartment cost $12,320 during the 2019-20 academic year. This has risen to a projected $14,070 in the 2022-23 year. For students living in residence halls, the equivalent prices for a double room, which include a meal plan, are $17,420 and $19,980, respectively.
UC Berkeley aims to double campus housing and provide two years of housing to incoming freshmen, as well as one year to transfer and graduate students. Campus’s website on the People’s Park development states that new housing in the park will be apartment-style units for non-freshmen, who cannot secure on-campus housing easily and “overwhelmingly request campus apartments.”
The construction project will consist of three parts: student housing, park space and supportive housing for previous residents of the park, according to Mogulof. The apartments are expected to cost $312 million to build, Mogulof said, and will be funded by limited project revenue bonds, the university’s primary method of financing student housing.
“In general, limited project revenue bonds are issued by the UC Office of the President and are supported by the revenues generated by the project, which include rent paid by resident students,” Mogulof said in an email. “Housing revenues, in turn, fund the regular operations and maintenance of existing campus housing, and service the debt from constructing new campus housing.”
Mogulof noted in an email that student housing and park space will be developed, constructed and operated by campus. No private developers or operators are involved, according to the project’s website, which added campus employees will staff the student units.
While campus has committed part of the land for supportive housing, this will be financed, developed and operated by Resources for Community Development, or RCD, Mogulof said in an email. According to Mogulof, RCD is a nonprofit organization based in Berkeley that has developed and operated supportive housing in the Bay Area for over 37 years.
RCD spokesperson Lauren Lyon stated in an email that the expected cost of the development is around $87.6 million. Lyon added that RCD has already received development funding from the city of Berkeley’s Housing Trust Fund and California’s Housing and Community Development Department’s No Place Like Home program.
The supportive housing, which will be a separate building from the student housing, will consist of approximately 100 apartment units. It will be composed of apartments, offices and common areas.
The housing is described on its website as “an ongoing commitment” to help vulnerable individuals gain self-sufficiency.
“The City of Berkeley has committed ongoing operating support and the Berkeley Housing Authority has conditionally committed Project-based vouchers, both of which will make it possible for RCD to serve households with the fewest options,” Lyon said in an email. “RCD plans to continue to apply to a combination of State, Federal, and private financing sources, including Low Income Housing Tax Credits.”