Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Jul 03rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Family Matters

Residents concerned over future of UCSC’s Family Student Housing

Brynda Zeller is a single mother and full-time student at UC Santa Cruz (UCSC). She says living at Family Student Housing (FSH), an on-campus housing unit that offers lowered rent and assistance to families with children, is the sole reason she is able to juggle parenting and her education.

“I can walk to classes and my daughter goes to the childcare center here,” she says. “Aside from convenience, the sense of community is really great here. … If [FSH] hadn’t been available, or had been any more expensive, I wouldn’t have come here. I would have just stuck with my associate degree and gotten a job or looked into other places.”

Zeller adds that she would have to move in with her mother in Santa Cruz or quit school and work full time if she could no longer live in FSH.

Housing programs like FSH are in place across the UC system and have provided childcare services, lowered rent, and accessibility to students with families for more than 47 years. However, at UCSC, this year’s rise in rent at FSH—from $1,407 this school year to $1,449 next school year for new residents—will make for a total of a 62 percent price increase over the last nine years.

Campus Provost Alison Galloway confirms the rate increase, but adds that continuing students will see no increase.

As rent for the FSH units at UCSC has consistently crept upward, some students with families have already had to leave. Those who can still afford the rent are worried that the FSH program may cease to house students with families in the near future, following Galloway’s announcement at a March 28 meeting of her approval of plans to tear down the current FSH units and replace them with newer, more expensive buildings.

Zeller says she’s worried about the implications of building newer, more expensive units for FSH, and urges more communication on the part of Galloway.

“I have a lot of questions,” she says. “I think it would make more sense to just put more money into the current units and make them more livable.”

Residents of FSH—organized in part by Ph.D. student and father of three Orville Canter and his wife Victoria—arrived at the March 28 meeting with a detailed proposal, including contractors’ analysis of the FSH units for a plan to implement an affordable communal living program at FSH.

Galloway dismissed the residents’ proposal and announced she has given the go-ahead to the plan to demolish and rebuild the FSH units.

While Galloway says she is committed to maintaining the FSH program, she cannot say how many units will remain allotted for “students with families” under the new plan.

“We really feel that the [FSH] units we currently have are nearing the end of their useful life,” she says. “We would be replacing those with [FSH] units as well.”

Galloway says the new buildings would potentially be larger in order to house more students. She adds that the definition of “family” at UCSC is flexible already, but that the new building models will be designed for couples and students with children. She says she is unable to confirm how many units, if any, will be reserved specifically for students with families nor what the rent on the new units will be. She adds that no plans are final at this time, but says she cannot foresee a renovation plan that does not require demolition of the FSH units. 

“Sometimes it is just more cost effective in the long term to replace rather than continue to renovate,” she says. “And replacement rather than renovation will actually ensure that family housing options continue to exist for tomorrow's students.”

A number of FSH residents remain skeptical of the new plan.

Zeller is one of more than 450 people to sign the petition since it was launched in the first week of April. The petition, entitled, “Save Family Student Housing at UCSC,” was organized by the Canters and is up on Change.org. The petition is addressed to Galloway and seeks to gather 1,000 signatures.

“We decided to put pressure on Galloway and UCSC Housing to help them understand that affordable housing for families is an important part of the campus community and should be supported,” says Victoria Canter. 

The March 28 meeting was one in a series to discuss rent hikes and the future of FSH throughout March.

When UCSC administrators held a meeting to discuss rent hikes at FSH on March 16, 100 tenants from the 200 FSH units showed up to demand affordable rents. This is when administrators announced that FSH rent would be increasing another 7.5 percent from the current school year to the next.

The reasoning for increased rent on FSH is cited in UCSC’s Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). A plan to redevelop FSH is outlined in the Environmental Impact Report to the LRDP vol. III ch. 3. According to the report, increased rent would go into future housing costs, some of which would assist in doubling the number of units at FSH.

However, Canter says an analysis of the economic impact by FSH residents indicates that the project will have the exact opposite result, because the new units will be too expensive for student families to rent.

“[FSH] will either have hundreds of empty units or they will have to allow non-families to live in the new development,” says Canter. “Dr. Galloway confirmed at our meeting [March 28] that she was authorizing housing to rent the new units to non-families.”

Victoria adds, “They’re still going to have something called [FSH], but what’s already happening in the community is they’re renting to what are essentially roommates. They come in and say, ‘We’re partners, and this is our roommate, and this is our roommate’s partner.’ You essentially have four single people who can afford $1,600 a month or whatever it is. ... On the other hand, you have single mothers who can’t afford that.

Comments (3)Add Comment
...
written by Sarah Benjamin, April 23, 2012
I am a current resident of FSH. I am a single mother of a 7-year old. It is convenient, safe, community-filled, and has an on-site daycare but the amount of rent almost doesn't make living here worth it.
FSH is for students with families but there are more students who say they are "partners" just so they can live here. It's supposed to be a safe environment for our children but the students are partying late, smoking weed in their apartments, smoking cigarettes, and speeding.
The only thing keeping me here is my education and my son. I just feel bad for the future students with families.
...
written by Sonya Philip, April 17, 2012
I was a resident at FSH and the affordable rent, Children's Center, and community were all reasons I was able to get my degree as a single mother. There was a substansial rent increase in 1999, which I protested along with other residents. It's hard to believe that the UCSC administration are at it again. There's a history to it and I sincerely hope that with attention and pressure from current, past residents, and the community, a sustainable solution can be found.
...
written by John E. Colby (UCSC Ph.D. '07), April 13, 2012
The Family Student Housing community at UCSC is unique: families are well served by this housing which was built in the late 1970s. Because of the stratospheric rents in Santa Cruz for two bedroom apartments, UCSC's Family Student Housing is the only opportunity for many students with families to attend UCSC. Moreover it is the only on campus housing for students -- students with families deserve to experience on campus living which connects them to the larger campus community.

A university education and university life should not only be affordable to single students. My family lived in UCSC Family Student Housing for four years. Those four years were the best of my graduate school education at UCSC. For the other years I lived far away from campus in Live Oak. Not only was that inconvenient, but it was also more expensive. I felt disconnected from UCSC.

I urge UCSC to subsidize student families by lowering Family Student Housing rents and keeping them affordable to families.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 3

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food