Commentary: Student Housing – Don’t Criticize What You Can’t Understand

Share:

On Sunday, the Vanguard published a guest commentary from Don Gibson which laid out a number of findings from a survey.  That survey, which was part of the chancellor’s Affordable Housing Task Force, identifies that around 19 percent of surveyed students are housing insecure, with 9 percent of those homeless at one point during the school year.

What we do not know is how that number is derived and what it means.  Nevertheless, the number has generated some skepticism.  One commenter noted that “we all know that there are not 7,000+ UCD students who are homeless ‘or’ even ‘really’ worried that they will be homeless.”  They followed up by questioning whether I really think there are 3.453 UC Davis students “that would be considered ‘homeless’ by most people.”

Don Gibson told me that there will be additional information released in a week or two with more focus on methodology.

I found the responses interesting because, while Don Gibson and I were largely focused in our analysis on the lack of available housing, most of the commenters focused on cost.  I would argue that the commenters, mostly from a very different generation, were overly dismissive of cost factors but completely ignored the supply-based analysis.

Don Gibson’s commentary noted that, even if UC Davis builds everything it says it will, there will still be a shortage of 1200 beds.  He went on to point out that the 19 percent of UC Davis students “report some form of homelessness or housing insecurity (couch surfing).”  His argument: “we can do better.”

Finally he points out the growing number of students – approximately 2200 – who are living in mini-dorms in town, thereby impacting neighborhoods.

So why was the response focused almost entirely on the housing insecure/homeless statistic?  Even in my commentary on Don Gibson’s numbers, the emphasis was on housing supply, not homelessness.

And yet, while the homelessness stat represented only about four paragraphs of a much longer piece, it represented nearly all of the comments.

I conceded in the comments that I don’t have the methodology or even the definition of homelessness.  The piece focused entirely on the supply issue, and, yet, I get accused of being Fox News or perhaps MSNBC.

Aside from this point, I found a lot of comments by the readers to be not only very dismissive, but unaware of the extent to which we simply lack both data and information on the nature of the student homelessness problem.

On June 30, CBS News ran a story, “The hidden problem of homelessness on college campuses.”   In it, they followed a 23-year-old at UCLA’s campus, Alejandro Reyes, who, while he blends in, is homeless.  His locker is his closet, he brushes his teeth  in the public restroom and he sleeps on a sofa inside the library.

He told CBS News, “I truly believe that I’m going to a different school than my peers are.”

He added, “My first quarter here, I actually lived inside of my car. … That’s where I had all my clothes, everything I needed for the day.”

The student is hoping to attend medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon.  He is one of at least 32,000 college students that were homeless in 2017, according to the US Department of Education.

As CBS explained, “His yearly tuition at UCLA costs about $13,000, which is covered by financial aid, student loans and a job he has on campus. After books and food, though, there’s nothing left for rent.”

According to CBS, this is not just a housing problem.  “A survey of students at 10 University of California campuses reveals 48 percent of underclassmen are food insecure and have to skip meals.”

Last spring, the Vanguard sampled some students and found that quite a few spent $20 or less a week on food.  I have often believed that many adults in the community, many of whom grew up during a different time, are out of touch with the struggles of students.

The fact is, how would we even know how many people like Alejandro Reyes are there at UC Davis?  The Vanguard has consistently heard accounts of students who sleep in the library or 24-hour reading rooms, and we know of many who live in their cars.  Eric Gudz tried to bring attention to this issue last spring by sleeping in a vehicle himself.

One of the anonymous posters thinks the number cannot possibly be over 3000 students – he may be right, but how would he know?  It’s not like people like Alejandro Reyes are visible to even their fellow students, let alone the general population.

We don’t know how many there are in such a situation because we have not had adequate data and that’s why the Affordable Housing Task Force, set up by the chancellor, conducted the survey.  Do we really believe that the chancellor’s survey is going to fudge the number of homeless and housing insecure students?

I want to address a few points that were raised here.

First, I think we have to acknowledge that student homelessness is a fundamentally different issue than the general homeless population.  Why?  For one thing, there is an element of choice here.  The student interviewed by CBS wants to go to medical school, and he is willing to sacrifice comfort in order to get his degree.

Homelessness in general seems to be a function of economic insecurity combined with things like mental illness and substance abuse.  That is not what is happening with the student populations.

Matt Williams points out: “The students being discussed have made the choice to pay UCD tuition and fees so that their focused ‘job’ in life is to get an education. That ‘job’ comes with room and board costs in addition to the tuition and fees.  One would hope that the student and his/her parents sat down and put together a multi-year budget to determine whether they could actually afford the ‘job’ at UCD they aspired to.  If they can’t afford a UCD education, as Ken has pointed out, there are more affordable alternatives … as well as considerably more expensive alternatives.”

Or they simply do as they are doing – they bite the short-term bullet in order to reach their goal of a college education in hopes that it leads to a better future.

Matt Williams argues that “your failure to plan does not constitute our emergency.”  He adds, “For those students, if the independence choice does create an emergency it is a self-imposed emergency, and very far from a crisis.”

But, isn’t that our emergency?  I understand that there are less costly ways to get a college education, but is that a good thing?  Should a UC education be out of the price range of middle America?

There is this notion that parents can supplement their kids education.  But can they?  Certainly there are people who are wealthy enough that they can pump in several thousand a month to pay for their kid’s remaining expenses.

But we have seen, in places in California, relatively high rates of salary have left people still vulnerable to the high cost of housing and living.  On paper, many people who appear to have reasonable incomes are living month to month.  For them, the idea that they can supplement costs for their college-aged kids is probably not reasonable.

But, instead of taking that into account, many who have grown up in very different situations are passing judgment.

There are those who point out that UC Davis has lower costs of living than other UC schools.  Our analysis bears that out from last spring.  UC Davis had the second lowest cost of housing off campus (although the second highest cost of housing on campus).

The problem with UC Davis is lack of available housing – and most of our analysis, and that of Don Gibson, focused on that.

What I view as the crisis and the emergency then is not necessarily the fact that a UC education, when considering the totality of tuition, food, rent and supplies, is out of the reach of many students – although that is an increasing concern.  What I consider the crisis is that we lack affordable living arrangements for the students who are here, which has made a tough situation far worse.

And, while we can blame UC Davis for increasing their enrollment without giving any thought to where those students are going to live, we also have to look at our responsibility as a host city and note that UC Davis’ enrollment has increased greatly since 2002 – the last time that Davis added market rate housing options for students.

That is a crisis of its own, and one that we own.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


Get Tickets To Vanguard’s Immigration Rights Event

Eventbrite - Immigration Law: Defending Immigrant Rights and Keeping Families Together

Share:

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

106 thoughts on “Commentary: Student Housing – Don’t Criticize What You Can’t Understand”

  1. Tia Will

    David

    I would like to make one additional point. Not only are we lacking current data, we are also lacking comparison data. I have previously pointed out that at one point in time over 40 years ago, I was voluntarily living out of my van to save money for medical school. I am quite sure that I was not alone in this choice. A major piece of missing information is what the percentage of the voluntarily “unsheltered” has been over time. Before we judge something a “crisis” shouldn’t we at least know whether the number is higher, lower, or the same as it has been previously?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      In essence, everyone who chooses to go to school is voluntarily unsheltered. They have an option, they can not go to school. But that’s why I think this discussion is misplaced. The price for going to college should not be homelessness – voluntary or otherwise. I still consider that a problem.

      1. Matt Williams

        David, the price for pursuing a college degree should include tuition, fees, housing and food costs … and a plan for having the financial resources and the extended family support to cover those aggregate costs.  Going after a college degree without a plan like that is like embarking on City of Davis road maintenance without considering the accumulated deferred maintenance of past years and/or the fact that Measure I just failed at the polls.

        If the student can not afford the costs of independent housing, then their option isn’t limited to homelessness.  They can live at home with their family and go to Community College and save money on all four of the educational cost components … tuition, fees, housing and food.

         

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Maybe so. But realistically, I’m not sure that an extended family is going to lend support for someone’s college education. And most people figure they can bite the financial bullet, get a job or three, and get the college education. But it puts a tremendous burden on students and families at this point.

          Again, my main focus has been dealing on the supply side with housing. That was Don Gibson’s main focus as well. Clearly there are other issues that need to be explored.

        2. Matt Williams

          You don’t think a father and/or mother are going to extend support to their child’s quest to earn a college degree?  I think extending support to one’s children is the principle responsibility of the parents of children.  If you aren’t going to support your children, why have those children in the first place.

          Regarding your now oft repeated statement that yours and Don Gibson’s main focus is on dealing with the supply side of housing, the homelessness argument is one that you and Don have injected into the discussion.

          I agree wholeheartedly that there are other issues besides supply side that need to be discussed.  One of those issues is what the meaning of small-a affordable is.  With Zillow reporting that apartment rents in Davis as of January 2018 are 102% of the California statewide average, what \does that say about the affordability of Davis rental housing?

    2. Alan Miller

      > I was voluntarily living out of my van to save money for medical school.

      No, because you made that choice, the town you were living in was obligated to house you at it’s own cost.

      1. Tia Will

        Alan

        What difference does it make if the town I was living in was “obligated” or not if it did not do that? Fine to say, the reality is different and I don’t recall either Santa Barbara or Isla Vista bending over backwards to fulfill this “obligation” and that was 40 + years ago.

  2. Matt Williams

    David Greenwald said . . . “I found the responses interesting because while Don Gibson and myself were largely focused in our analysis on lack of available housing, most of the commenters focused on cost.”

    I think David has misread the comments.  The focus of the commenters has for the most part been for accountable fiscal planning by the students and their families for the aggregate costs of their pursuit of a college degree.  As Tia has pointed out in her comment above, she made a conscious decision to live out of her van during medical school.  That decision was part of her plan.

    As I have read the comments, I don’t believe the cost of housing in Davis has been the commenters’ focus at all.  The Zillow data shows that in January 2018 Davis apartment rents are only 102% of the State of California average. As Ken has pointed out Davis apartment rents are significantly lower than those facxed by students at UCLA, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, etc. When it comes to housing affordability for students in Davis, a modified version of Tia’s statement above applies, We aren’t lacking in current data about apartment rental rates, but we are also lacking comparison data to evaluate how affordable those rental rates are compared to other University communities.

    1. Ken A

      It is a bummer that the the cost of going to college is getting so high and as someone who not only paid for college for myself but is trying to save to help my kids pay for college (so they won’t have to work at as many crappy jobs as I did and hopefully study more so they have the grades to go to grad school).

      https://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-tuition-home-prices-cpi-2010-7

      With that said my big problem with the recent Vanguard articles on housing is the misuse of the word “homeless” (the Google dictionary says is: “(of a person) without a home, and therefore typically living on the streets”.  I’m hoping that David will learn that there is a difference between the “living on the streets”  and not having a place leased in your name at “one point during the school year”.

      The dorms are not open all year and every kid that gets to Davis a day before they can move in to their dorm is not “homeless”.  Most apartment leases in town end before August 31st and start on September 1st and we often let college kids (NOT “homeless” kids) we know spend the night at our house (with all their stuff in a U-Haul waiting for a day or two till they can get the keys to their new apartment on August 1st.

      1. David Greenwald

        “With that said my big problem with the recent Vanguard articles on housing is the misuse of the word “homeless” (the Google dictionary says is: “(of a person) without a home, and therefore typically living on the streets”.  I’m hoping that David will learn that there is a difference between the “living on the streets”  and not having a place leased in your name at “one point during the school year”.”

        That point is not particularly helpful.

        First of all, not my use of the word.  There is a study coming out of UCD that used the term.  Like I said yesterday, housing insecure is probably better here, but the word is being used to connote college students without a home, even when they live in a library or car.  (It is getting annoying that I get blamed for using a term in its common usage as it is being used in the media and university studies and getting lectured for my use of it).

        1. Ken A

          David is starting to sound like my kids saying “all the other kids use that word”…

          “Illegal invader” is a term often used in the right wing media, but just like the guy coming here to work construction (or the gal coming to do hotel housekeeping) is not an “invader” the UCD kids that don’t have a room in their name at  “ONE point during the school year” are not “homeless”…

          You are getting “blamed” for using the term because you are using it (not making fun of the people that are using it like you should be making fun of the people that call a lady working at a hotel in Davis an “invader” or the UCD kids that will be having breakfast on our back patio in a month “homeless”)…

    2. Tia Will

      Matt

      You don’t think a father and/or mother are going to extend support to their child’s quest to earn a college degree?”

      I think that you are making some unjustified socioeconomic assumptions. Not every father or mother has the capability of “extending support” to their child. What if their child works with them every day in the field just to keep the younger children in the family fed and clothed? What if the mother and father are not on the scene or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol? What if the mother /father are incarcerated?  Not every student who has not had your standard middle class upbringing will understand that they may need help, in some cases, a lot of help just to get through on the community college level.

      1. Matt Williams

        Tia, you are swinging the pendulum to an extreme in order to make your point.

        In your first example, if the child is working every day in the fields side by side with their parents in order to feed and clothe the younger children in the family, what are the chances that they have aspirations of going to UC Davis?  Probably pretty slim.  Not zero, but pretty slim.

        In your second example where both parents are incapacitated by drugs and/or alcohol, the child having aspirations of going to UC Davis will again be facing incredibly long odds.

        In your third example, based on a number of documentaries that I have seen many incarcerated parents would be wildly supportive of the possibility that their child had the discipline, gumption and focus to get a college degree.  Certainly not all incarcerated parents will be supportive of their children advancing themselves, but many will rejoice that their children have a chance to escape the destructive life they themselves have lived.  The recent 60 Minutes story about San Quentin was full of men who would give their eye teeth to be able to support the UC Davis aspirations of a child of theirs.

        Your final sentence is telling … since it appears to recognize that the children you have described will think community college rather than UC Davis when mapping out their college aspirations.

        1. Howard P

          Another myth… that a UC education is better than a CSU education… in the work-a-day world, CSU folk are generally better prepared to enter the professional world and quickly succeed, compared to their UC cohorts… UC is a better choice for those who seek MS/MA, PhD’s, and/or want to teach/research.  CSU is better for those who want to get a good degree and work in their chosen fields.

          This has been true for over 4 decades… saying this as a UCD grad, working with many CSU grads in my field(s)… my UC advantage was breadth of knowledge, spanning many disciplines, not just my field.  I was/am a multi-tool… not the best tool for any given task, but a damn good tool across the board.  That was/is my ‘value’…

          There’s a huge difference, in any case, between having a college degree, and having a college education.

      2. David Greenwald Post author

        Tia – I agree with your point, but I think you’re also missing there are a lot of people out there who aren’t having those problems, they make a decent salary even, but they don’t have a lot of disposable income and therefore would not be of much financial healp.

  3. Alan Miller

    I think it’s good to have data.

    My issue, and I think many other commenters yesterday, is the lingo and methodology used for political purposes that makes all such surveys actually more useless than helpful.

    That is not denial of the reality of the issue, it is saying ‘stop exaggerating using stats and lets get some real numbers based on terms and methodology we can all agree on and start from there.”

    1. David Greenwald

      That point has been made clear re the lingo.  The problem is (A) not my study, (B) the lingo is common usage in the media, so again, it feels like people are picking a bone that’s not mine in the first place.

      1. Matt Williams

        David Greenwald said . . . “That point has been made clear re the lingo.  The problem is (A) not my study, (B) the lingo is common usage in the media, so again, it feels like people are picking a bone that’s not mine in the first place.”

        David, regarding (A), as the publisher/editor of the Vanguard, you have chosen to write multiple articles about the study and its implications.  None of your articles have begun with your personal opinion about the study.  You have simply weighed in using the study’s information whole cloth.  That begs the question, either you believe the accuracy and/or applicability of the study or you don’t.  If you don’t, then perhaps you might start your various articles with an explanation about how you see the study’s accuracy and/or applicability.  In the absence of any such self-explanation, it is not unreasonable for a Vanguard reader to believe you are a “buyer” of the report and its findings.

        Regarding (B), is “common usage in the media” the standard the Vanguard aspires to?  Much of the language that is used in the media these days is predominantly political spin designed to advocate for a desired outcome.   I have called you out numerous times for using the term “crisis” as a political weapon.  The use of the term “homelessness” in this series of articles is cut from the same cloth.  As a result, for me at least, picking a bone with your use of political spin is indeed yours in the first place.

    2. Mark West

      “My issue, and I think many other commenters yesterday, is the lingo and methodology…”

      My issue is that commenters’ use complaints/concerns about the lingo and the currently unknown methodology to attempt to negate the actual problem of insufficient housing in town. Throw in some commentary on how others should spend their money and their lack of budgeting ability, plus some biting comments on the lack of affordability and the University’s failure to do what was promised, and now we have a justification for not addressing the actual problem, which is still insufficient housing in town.

      How about we stop arguing about this manufactured nonsense and start building more housing?

       

      1. Howard P

        Nah… your last line makes too much sense… arguing is the lifeblood for so many (not substance, “getting off” on conflict) locally… manufactured non-sense is the agar for the arguing… a necessary nutrient/substrate… we don’t want to shut down a “local industry”… hopefully, previous approvals, if and when the litigiousness folk, are shot down or get their jollies/monetary settlements, we can see actual building… but don’t hold your breath…

        1. Alan Miller

          Calling BS on surveys and building housing are not mutually exclusive — they also have completely different timelines.  If you think snapping your fingers will create housing, snap away.

        2. Mark West

          “Calling BS on surveys and building housing are not mutually exclusive…”

          Normally, I might agree with you, but in this town, the argument (and the subsequent litigation) is intended to delay and obstruct new development, not solve the community’s challenges. We don’t need a survey to know that there is a shortage of appropriate housing in town, regardless of what methodology or lingo might be used. The solution is to build more housing, not repeat old arguments.

           

        3. Matt Williams

          Mark, I would agree with you if our most recent example of an approved housing development did not reduce the density of its proposed housing from 66 units per acre to 27 units per acre.

          My substitute argument to your argument (torturing Roberts Rules) is that we have no community standards for addressing housing.  It is all ad-hoc, which means the opposition can be equally ad-hoc.

          If we set community standards (like your oft-mentioned 1964 Davis General Plan, Adopted March 24, 1958, Revised April 13, 196) and then lived by those standards, there would be very little opportunity for the delaying tactics you bemoan.

        4. Alan Miller

          I’m just talking about the survey, or anything that tries to overstate or glorify a problem for political gain.  My point is, this sort of thing actually hurts the cause of those who put out such things.

        5. David Greenwald

          “if our most recent example of an approved housing development did not reduce the density of its proposed housing from 66 units per acre to 27 units per acre.”

          How to lie with numbers.  Nishi went from 1500 student beds to 2200 on the same acreage.

        6. Matt Williams

          Not the same acreage.  The planned development filing for the 2016 project had 9.8 acres of residential.  The planned development filing for the 2018 project had 25.8 acres of residential.

          Further, the 2016 project had 1,950 beds, not 1,500 … and the documents filed with the City by the developer contained a provision for a 20% optional density increase. If the developer had exercised that option the beds would have risen from 1,950 to 2,340.

        7. David Greenwald

          That is immaterial.  The voters approved the development of the entire site which was the same acreage.  There is more student housing in the 2018 proposal from the 2016 proposal.

        8. Alan Miller

          The voters approved the development of the entire site which was the same acreage.  There is more student housing in the 2018 proposal from the 2016 proposal.

          Immaterial!

  4. Todd Edelman

    Homelessness in general seems to be a function of economic insecurity combined with things like mental illness and substance abuse.

    In general, really? The various statistics in these recent articles in the LA Times and Voices of San Diego seem to say that you’re exaggerating.

     

    1. Ken A

      When I was in college I brought some friends (who David would probably call “homeless”) who like me were not going “home” from college for Thanksgiving to help a priest I knew who had dedicated his life to helping the (real) homeless (not UCD kids who sleep in a U-Haul for one night) serve food on Thanksgiving Day.  One of the homeless guys kept asking a friend what planet he was from and he ended up asking the priest to estimate what percentage of the homeless had drug alcohol and or mental problems and the priest said “About 99% but we help them anyway”.  The article Todd links to says “The lion’s share of research and the experts I spoke with instead suggested somewhere between 25 percent and 40 percent of the nation’s homeless population is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, or both.” and another that says: “Local authorities estimate that 30% of the county’s homeless people have serious mental illness” When you add 40%  + 30% you get 70% then you add in the 29% with regular (not bad enough to be called “serious” mental illness and you are at 99%.  Most people won’t tell friends and family to “load your stuff in to a shopping cart and go sleep under the freeway overpass” unless they are worried about the guy going in to a drug induced rage or having a psychotic break and hurting someone.  Sure we probably have a 20 something poor girl living in a Vanagon Westy somewhere in the state saving for Med School today and there are “some” UCD kids sleeping in cars, but they are just a tiny percentage of the “real” (what normal people call) homeless population of the state.

       

      1. Howard P

        Conveniently neglecting the overlap in MH and substance abuse issues… huge overlap… often referred to as “self-medication”… other than that, you raise good points… but they are partial truths, and the numbers are very suspicious…

        1. Ken A

          I’m wondering if Howard has an estimate of the percentage of homeless (defined as people sleeping outdoors in places they are not legally allowed to sleep for at least a month) that do NOT drink to excess, Do NOT take illegal drugs or would NOT be diagnosed by a mental health professional as having any mental health issues).  I feel that the ~1% (about one out of every 100) number is accurate.

          I agree with Mark that we have “insufficient housing in town”, but feel that building even 10,000 new apartments in town will not help 99% of the real “homeless” living around Davis (and trying to tie the homeless problem to “insufficient housing” will just make it harder to to solve either problem).

           

        2. Howard P

          I do not have a number… your claims to a number are suspect.

          … would NOT be diagnosed by a mental health professional as having any mental health issues…

          Could you pass that “litmus” test?  No depression, no matter how infrequent or minor?  No anxiety?  No anger issues?  No narcissism? No anger issues? So no self-esteem problems where you have to deride others to bolster yourself?

          If asked privately, would your family and friends agree?

          If truly, you have no signs of any MH issues, no matter how infrequent or minor (in your opinion), great, good for you!  Enjoy the day…

        3. Mark West

          “I agree with Mark that we have “insufficient housing in town”, but feel that building even 10,000 new apartments in town will not help 99% of the real “homeless” living around Davis (and trying to tie the homeless problem to “insufficient housing” will just make it harder to to solve either problem).”

          Dealing with our homeless population, and our longstanding shortage of appropriate housing in town, are two distinct and serious challenges that are only nominally related. Attempts to conflate the two are just another example of the obfuscate/delay/obstruct mindset that remains popular in town (and on this site).

        4. Ron

          Mark:  “Attempts to conflate the two are just another example of the obfuscate/delay/obstruct mindset that remains popular in town (and on this site).”

          You might want to re-examine exactly who is trying to conflate the two, as well as the possible reasons for the conflation. It certainly doesn’t seem to be coming from the “slow-growth” side (whoever that might be – other than me on this site, at least).

          Got to run, for awhile.

        5. Alan Miller

          Could you pass that “litmus” test?  No depression, no matter how infrequent or minor?  No anxiety?  No anger issues?  No narcissism? No anger issues? So no self-esteem problems where you have to deride others to bolster yourself?

          I doubt any of us who post regularly on the Vanguard could pass the above litmus test for mental health.

        6. Ron

          “I doubt any of us who post regularly on the Vanguard could pass the above litmus test for mental health.”

          My second laugh, for the day.  Was thinking the same thing, but didn’t want to admit it.

          Regarding “got to run”, it’s just a request to “behave” online, while I’m gone. At least, regarding personal attacks. (Something that doesn’t always occur, and isn’t consistently moderated.)

      2. Ron

         Ken:  ” . . . but they are just a tiny percentage of the “real” (what normal people call) homeless population of the state.”

        My smile/laugh, for the day.

        Good posts/comments.

  5. Ron

    The overheated California real estate market is starting to show signs of crashing, as predicted. In addition to the following, I’ve seen other recent articles stating this.

    “In the past, California, one of the largest housing markets in the nation, has been a predictor for the rest of the country. Home prices have been rising everywhere, amid a critical housing shortage. Prices usually lag sales by several months, and sales are beginning to crumble, even as more inventory comes on the market.”

    “LePage points to the rise in mortgage rates over the past six months, increasing significantly a borrower’s monthly payment.”

    I assume that rising interest rates also impact rental construction proposals and resulting affordability of new developments.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/24/southern-california-home-sales-crash-a-warning-sign-to-the-nation.html

     

    1. Matt Williams

      A “Crisis” is defined is a critical event or point of decision which, if not handled in an appropriate and timely manner (or if not handled at all), may turn into a disaster or catastrophe.

      Vincent, the UC Davis annual Apartment Vacancy Ratre Survey results show that the apartment vacancy rate in Davis has been at the current level (on average) for the last 23 years.

      What is it that is different about 2018 than all the 22 years that preceded it (with equivalently low vacancy rates)?  We did not have a disaster or catastrophe in any of those prior 22 years.  Why will 2018 suddenly produce a disaster or catastrophe?

      1. David Greenwald

        Matt –

        I think you need to look at what the vacancy rate doesn’t say.

        The vacancy rate being steadily low (although it has diminished in recent years) may not be the leading indicator of the problem.  This is why the mini-dorm issue that Don Gibson raises is important – the mini-dorms are sucking up excess demand (in a detrimental way).  It is possible that the vacancy rate is steady and low and yet conditions continue to deteriorate.

         

      2. Ken A

        It sounds like Matt never heard the quote: “Never let a good crisis go to waste”.

        Just like almost no one will really care (and buy a paper, watch a newscast or click on a blog post) if a headline is: “The Davis apartment vacancy rate is low like it has been for decades” or “People illegally crossing the border are kept in fenced facilities before deportation like they have been for decades” but when you can say “The housing crisis is so bad today that we have thousands of homeless students” or “We have a crisis at the border today with thousands of immigrant children locked in cages” people will think “we need to do something” and buy a paper, watch a newscast or click a blog post (even more will read,watch or click if you have photos or video of a college student in the back of a SUV or a cute latino kid locked in a porta kennel).

        https://theaggie.org/2018/05/27/eric-gudz-running-for-city-council-while-sleeping-in-car/

         

        1. Don Shor

          “The Davis apartment vacancy rate is low like it has been for decades”

          That is false. It has never been this low for this long.
          A lot of people commenting on this blog appear to have no idea what the Davis housing market has been like for the last few years.

        2. Ken A

          Looking at Don’s data I see 1998-2002 as a 5 year stretch below 1% with an average of .40% vs. just the last four years 2014-2017 under 1% with a 5 year (2013-2017) average of .56%.  Don is correct that it has never been .20% for three years in a row, but I think that just about everyone (who isn’t a CPA, an Engineer or OCD) would agree with me (and Matt) that “The Davis apartment vacancy rate is low like it has been for decades”.

          It is interesting that with ~10,000 apartments in town a 1% vacancy rate means ~100 vacant apartments and every basis point is about a single apartment so when we go from .4% to .2% we go from around 40 vacant apartments down to around 20 vacant apartments…

          1. Don Shor

            “The Davis apartment vacancy rate is low like it has been for decades”.

            The Davis apartment vacancy rate is lower than it has been for decades. It has never been this low for this long in the history of the survey.

      1. Ron

        Seems to be some strange variations between 1989 (when the rate was well-below 1%), and 1992 (when the rate was almost 9%), before drastically dropping down by 1996 (to a rate well-below 1%, again).

        A similar pattern 2002 (when the rate was the same as it is now), and 2005 (when it jumped up, before falling again).

        I blame the slow-growthers, Measure R, and maybe Bigfoot. (And, drastically changing the city’s plans to try to maintain a particular rate makes about as much sense as that.)

        Regardless, trying to plan around what UCD decides to do is not good policy, and will impact non-student renters, commercial development, and create unresolved impacts for the city as a whole.

      2. Ron

        Also, for Alan’s point (at 6:01 p.m.) to be valid, rents would have to fall during the corresponding increases in vacancy rate (and would have to be the about the same today, as they were in 1989). 

        I strongly suspect that this has not occurred.

        1. Alan Miller

          Rents never fell, they would stabilize during periods of relatively high vacancy, and jump during sustained extremely low vacancy, such as now.

      3. Matt Williams

        Don’s table and graph show that the 4-year period from 2014 through 2017 has good company in the the 5-year period from 1998 through 2002. As I have said in many past comments, from 1996 (when the Vacancy Rate hit 0.5%) to 2017, the median Vacancy Rate has been 0.8%.  If it is a crisis, it has been a crisis since 1996.  However, since a “Crisis” is defined is a critical event or point of decision which, if not handled in an appropriate and timely manner (or if not handled at all), may turn into a disaster or catastrophe, and we have had no disasters or catastrophes since 1996, the housing situation is the Status Quo rather than a Crisis.

        As has been pointed out earlier, using the word “Crisis” in this context is worthy of the politically polarized rhetoric of Fox News or MSNBC.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          There is a good point made here and a bad point made here.

          The good point is that while I think the vacancy rate statistic is helpful for understanding the market, it is not a tell all in terms of the housing crisis.

          Let make a point and illustrate it through a hypothetical. The vacancy rate is effectively zero. Now it’s true that at any one time there probably are around 100 or so vacant rooms/ beds in Davis. Having had a former employee attempt to rent back in December, I know what those look like. The usable rooms get dozens of applications and the landlord can their pick. Or the rooms are simply not rentable. Sometimes they get rented anyway despite serious problems.

          But let’s say that Matt is right, looking at the graph the vacancy rate was about the same now as it was in 1998-2002. That doesn’t mean, that if it is a crisis now, it has been since 1996 as Matt is trying to argue. It simply means that the vacancy rate metric is not measuring the totality of the problem.

          The hypothetical illustrates it – in Time A and Time B, the vacancy rate is comparable and effectively zero. However in Time A, the shortage of housing is only a few hundred and those students quickly double up or find places out of time. Time B, the shortage of housing is 10,000. The demand market spawns the rise of mini-dorms, students are doubling and tripling up, students are living on couches, in their cars, in the library. In time A, the vacant units draw a few applicants. In Time B, they draw 100 applicants. In short, the Vacancy rate between Time A and Time B IS NOT TELLING US THE FULL PICTURE, because the vacancy rate is only measuring the available units and not the pent up demand. Time A is closer to what things were like in 2000. Interestingly enough in 2000, is when Cecilia and I rented our first apartment together, we got a three bedroom in April. There is no way we could ever have found an available three bedroom in April now. You can look at the vacancy rates all you want, but they are not telling you the story of what it is like on the ground.

          This is the problem, Matt. You’re making accusations. You’re looking at numbers. But you have no idea what it is like on the ground and in reality because you aren’t interacting with students and dealing with the situation on a day to day basis.

          1. Don Shor

            Matt’s assertions are absurd. There has never been a period of 0.2% apartment unit vacancy rates for three years in a row. There is no comparable period. The median is not close to what we have now. And, as you point out, the problem has increased in magnitude. The impacts on residential neighborhoods are obvious and the “bed lease” factor is also a reflection of the market. This has been a disturbing comment thread at many levels for how oblivious many people are to the situation for young adult renters in our area.

        2. Ken A

          We need to remember that a .3% “vacancy factor” years ago when there were less apartments in town was actually “worse” (there were LESS apartments available to rent) than a .2% vacancy factor today.  It is also important to remember before yelling “crisis crisis the sky is falling” that a kids today are making  a $12/hr “minimum” wage vs just $4.75 in 1997 and 7.50 in 2007.

        3. Matt Williams

          Here are two simple questions for Don Shor.  (1) What is the functional difference between 0.2% vacancy rate and 0.3% vacancy rate?  (2) What is the reported margin of error in the UCD Apartment Vacancy and Rental Rate Survey?

          When Don provides answers to those two simple questions any “absurdness” will be clarified.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            A point I find most interesting that Don raised is this: “This has been a disturbing comment thread at many levels for how oblivious many people are to the situation for young adult renters in our area.”

            That gibes with my observation and it is particularly illuminating because you and Ken continue to focus on one metric rather than the larger picture I have responded by pointing out.

        4. Matt Williams

          David, I have very clearly pointed out over multiple weeks the long-standing reality of the problem UCD and the City and the community collectively face, and I have pointed it our apolitically and dispassionately.  No one else has submitted a California Public Records Act request top UCD so that the dialogue was/is informed by actual documented historical trends of the annual Vacancy Survey reports. (In fairness to Don, his graphic posted yesterday afternoon has the data, so he may have had it all along but not shared it.) I am the only person who has repeatedly, publicly stated the actual vacancy rate is “minus 30%,” illuminating the pent up demand … with the numbers (from UCD and the California Department of Finance) to objectively back that statement up.

          I am wholly and completely guilty of objecting to your blatant politicization of knee jerk bandaids for the symptoms of the “disease” rather than well-thought-out collaborative steps to address the underlying causes.  You question the validity of the points that I and others are making because you are interacting with students, and you believe I am not.  From a past thread you indicated that the number of students who attended your Workshop was 67.  Let’s triple that number to 200, as an approximation of the number of students you have interacted with on this issue.  Is 200 UCD students a representative sample?  Is one half of one percent of a population statistically representative?  Is there selection bias in either the sample of 67 or the sample of 200?

          Bottom-line, (1) we need more than anecdote to properly solve this problem, (2) we need more than the efforts of the City of Davis to properly solve this problem, (3) we need more efforts like the embryonic one Don Gibson and his cohorts have begun to accurately show how massive the problem is, and (4) we need UCD to act as if it is part of the community, not separate from it.

          With that said, I will be glad to meet with any homeless and/or housing insecure students to get something beyond anecdote as input to a better understanding of how the 38,000 UCD students are affected by this problem that has existed since 1996.

        5. David Greenwald

          With due respect Matt, you’re engaging in revisionist history.

          The first words out of your mouth were: “David, you are sounding more and more like Fox News all the time.  If the numbers being reported in the survey are to be believed, over 7,200 of the 38,369 UC Davis students (see UCD’s high-level-dashboard) are either homeless or couch surfing. Do you actually believe that is the case?”

          In fact you quoted directly from Don Gibson’s article in making this comment.  Now you praise Don for his efforts.

          A dispassionate view, as you put, might have been, let’s try to figure out where those numbers come from and figure out how to address the issue.  Instead, you leap immediately to accusing me of being Fox News.

          What I find interesting is I did a public records request back in the late winter and was appalled to learn that UC Davis could not tell us how many students were either homeless or housing insecure, because they had never bothered to collect that data.

          The efforts of Don Gibson and the chancellor’s Affordable Housing Task Force are the ones you disparage here, the numbers came from then.

        6. Mark West

          “Bottom-line, (1) we need more than anecdote to properly solve this problem,”

          Nope. We just need to increase rental housing supply until the vacancy rate in town is a healthy 5% (or close to it). No additional studies are needed.

          “(2) we need more than the efforts of the City of Davis to properly solve this problem,”

          Nope. Housing is the City’s problem. No one else is responsible for solving the challenge.

          “(3) we need more efforts like the embryonic one Don Gibson and his cohorts have begun to accurately show how massive the problem is,”

          Nope. Only the willfully ignorant are unable to see the extent of the problem.

          “and (4) we need UCD to act as if it is part of the community, not separate from it.”

          Nope. We need UCD to be a University and focus on its mission of research and education and stop pandering to the willfully ignorant in the local community.

  6. Ken A

    If Don really thinks the median (.9%) is “not close to what we have now” (.2% or .4%) it might be a good time to take a walk outside the barn ask some other people if they think that on a scale of 1-100 if .2 is “close” to .9.

    If someone asked Don if today was a good day to put down new sod with an afternoon high of 106 and he told him to wait I’m wondering what he would think if the guy said how about tomorrow when it will be 105.3 “not even close” to the 106 they expect today?

  7. Ron

    David:  “That gibes with my observation and it is particularly illuminating because you and Ken continue to focus on one metric rather than the larger picture I have responded by pointing out.”

    I believe his is the first time that David has chosen to downplay the vacancy rate (but only after others have pointed out that the graph/numbers presented aren’t supporting his argument).

    The Vanguard really got its butt kicked on these couple of articles, especially regarding “homeless” students.  And yet, David and Don are still doubling-down.  (Can’t help but be amused.)

    1. David Greenwald

      “The good point is that while I think the vacancy rate statistic is helpful for understanding the market, it is not a tell all in terms of the housing crisis.”

      Apparently this is a statement downplaying the importance of the vacancy rate statistic.  News to me.

      I think go on to explain how the same vacancy rate statistic could be deceptive because while it captures one factor – available rental units – it doesn’t capture other factors like pent up demand.

      Apparently the way to get your butt kicked is for people to ignore your main points and focus narrowly on less important ones.

      1. Ron

        I’m referring primarily to past articles, in which you trotted out the vacancy rate repeatedly (and pretty much in isolation), essentially as a planning tool.  (While downplaying the solutions that others have proposed, which would address the cause of that rate.)

        In the past couple of articles (including this one), your butt was more soundly kicked on the definition of student homelessness.  (Don didn’t trot out the vacancy rate, until later in the comment section.)

        Of the two of you, Don is more stubborn, while you’re more evasive.

         

        1. David Greenwald

          One thing you learn about statistics when you do learn quantitative analysis, is the limits of certain metrics.  As I have explained, twice now, vacancy rate is helpful for understanding some things including the availability of housing.  However, it doesn’t address the depths of the housing crisis, because we have no way to gauge unmet demand.  You appear to not wish to discuss this – but in fairness, neither do Ken or Matt.

        2. Ron

          Your arguments are now drifting and becoming evasive.

          The title of this article started out with an admonishment to readers, apparently in response to the multitude of comments that you received from the previous (similar article):

          “Commentary:  Student Housing – Don’t Criticize What You Can’t Understand”

          How about acknowledging that there’s some pretty smart people commenting on here, who (in fact) do understand analyses (and point out b.s. presented, when appropriate)?

           

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            One thing you learn about statistics when you do learn quantitative analysis, is the limits of certain metrics. As I have explained, three times now, vacancy rate is helpful for understanding some things including the availability of housing. However, it doesn’t address the depths of the housing crisis, because we have no way to gauge unmet demand. You appear to not wish to discuss this – but in fairness, neither do Ken or Matt.So you’re not going to address the core issue here raised

        3. Ron

          Your “core issue” (for the past couple of articles) appeared to be suggesting that students (in large numbers) are being forced into homelessness.

          And again, past, repetitive articles/comments focused almost entirely on the vacancy rate (which you’re now downplaying, while Don is simultaneously denying historic data regarding that – as pointed out by Ken and Matt).

        4. Ron

          Regarding past articles and comments, they’re in your archives.

          Regarding the current article (and comments), they’re shown above.

          Rather than arguing with me, I think your focus should be on the unanswered points from Ken and Matt, above. (I was simply expressing my amusement, with the way things have gone for you and Don on here.)

          You are an evasive son-of-a-gun. A talent, to be sure.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Backing it up means you actually make an argument that demonstrates that I said what you claim I said.

        5. Ron

          Sorry, not biting.

          Suggest you respond to Matt and Ken (e.g., 8:43 a.m., and 8:54 a.m.), above. (Actually, they’re more directed to Don in this case.)

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I didn’t think you could. None of you addressed my core point and all blew a small portion of the piece – the part on homelessness – beyond it’s actual significance in the piece.

        6. Ron

          You’re (purposefully?) confusing lack of sufficient interest to go back and search through all of your archives to find applicable quotes, with an inability to do so.

          Are you denying that many of your past articles/comments (including comments from Don) focused heavily/primarily on the vacancy rate?  The rate that is essentially the same today, as it was in 1989 (and at various points, since then)?

          If you’re denying this, it might be worth it to search your archives, if/when time allows. (But first, I’d like to see a response to Matt and Ken’s comments.)

          1. Don Shor

            The rate that is essentially the same today, as it was in 1989 (and at various points, since then)?

            False.
            There has only been one year when it was 0.2% before now (2002).
            It has never been 0.2% for three years in a row.
            It has never been this low for this long.
            Facts are stubborn things.

        7. David Greenwald

          The point doesn’t require an archive dive.  I have already acknowledged that vacancy rate is and has been important as a measure.  The point here is different – the point here is that it might be important but it is limited.

          I’ll give you another example – traditionally in baseball analysists have used statistics like batting average, homers, and RBIs to determine who is a good hitter.  But as advance analytics came into being the analysists realized that those measures, while important, are limited.

          That’s what I’m saying about vacancy rate.  It’s important.  I believe fully that getting to 5 percent vacancy is critical to alleviating the rental crunch.

          But it doesn’t tell us the depths of the crisis because there is no way to measure pent up demand.  This is the point you are not addressing.  It doesn’t matter if you pull up millions of past posts, we cannot tell from a comparison of the 2000 vacancy rate to the 2018 vacancy rate how many people attempted to rent a bed in Davis, but could not due to lack of supply.

          That’s my point.  You don’t need to dive into the archives to address it.

        8. Mark West

          This is one of the most inane discussions I can recall here. A healthy rental market has a vacancy rate in the 5% range, not below 1%. If the vacancy rate has been below 1% for much of the last couple of decades that just means that our rental market has been screwed up for a long time. The only difference that I see is that now the voices of reason are starting to be heard and the CC has voted to support an expansion of the rental market. Given the results of the last election, it is fair to say that the electorate supports that expansion as well.

        9. Ken A

          I’m wondering if David really thinks that:

          1. There are “thousands” of UCD homeless kids or

          2. Most of us who post here (that can rattle off ballpark median rents, home prices, vacancy rates in town and approx UC undergrad enrollment since he was in High School off the top of our head) are “oblivious” to the situation for young adult renters in our area?

          Mark makes a couple great points:

          1. This is one of the most inane discussions I can recall here.

          Why anyone would argue that there are thousands of homeless UCD students that are able to hide from us is just silly, but not as silly as saying that .2 is “not even close” to .9 (on a scale of 1-100).

          2. A healthy rental market has a vacancy rate in the 5% range, not below 1%. If the vacancy rate has been below 1% for much of the last couple of decades that just means that our rental market has been screwed up for a long time.

          Everyone should read #2 twice since it is spot on.  David still has young kids but by his mid 50’s a day will probably not go by when he is not with friends talking about the cost of college, the cost of rent in west coast college towns (and how it will cost about $50K to send a kid out of state if he does not have the grades to get in to a UC school).  It is not much harder to find an apartment in Davis with the vacancy rate below 1% as it was in the late 80’s when the vacancy rate was under 1% (.2 actually is “close” to .8)  but with the tuition about 10x higher than it was in the late 80’s it is a lot harder for middle class kids to afford rent (but easier for poor kids who now get free tuition).

          P.S. I’m interested in how “pent up demand” makes it harder to find a place and what David is using to determine “pent up demand” today vs. years in the past…

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            1. We haven’t seen the methodology for the survey, but I don’t know why you are skeptical that at some level there might be during the course of the year thousands of UCD students without a permanent living arrangement. Most aren’t going to be living on the streets or in shelters, but I’ve heard enough stories about students living in cars, moving from couch to couch, and sleeping in the library or the 24 hour reading room – how do you know this is not happening?

            2. I can only base my comments on your comments – and frankly you’re more reasonable on the housing issue than some here.

            Your paragraph under point two seems at odds with the rest of what you’ve been saying this week (Everyone should read #2 twice)…

            On pent up demand, I’ve pointed to the mini-dorm issue, I hope that the survey sheds more light on where students are going as the result of the housing crisis

        10. Alan Miller

          I’m interested in how . . . . . David is using to determine “pent up demand” today vs. years in the past…

          The words “seems” is involved.

        11. Matt Williams

          David Greenwald said . . . “However, it doesn’t address the depths of the housing crisis, because we have no way to gauge unmet demand.”

          Wrong, wrong, wrong.  The project I am in the midst of working with Janna Gabby of the UCD Office of the Campus Counsel very clearly quantifies the imballance between supply and demand for the UCD portion of the housing marketplace.  I have shared some of the work-in-process information in past comments.  I have kept both Matt Dulcich and Matt Kowta in the communications loop of my progress with Jana and also witrh the California Department of Finance.  My commitment to Matt Dulcich is that the completed data will not be released until he and Matt have had a chance to review it. I am firmly committed to avoiding any politicization of the data.

          The non-UCD portion of the housing marketplace will be the next area of focus.  However, the UCD portion is extremely illuminating of just how long-standing and deep the problem is.  You can continue to use your political spin terminology “crisis” but to date there has been no disaster or catastrophe, nor has there even been a “critical point been
          Critical event or point of decision which, if not handled in an appropriate and timely manner (or if not handled at all), may turn into a disaster or catastrophe.

          Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/crisis.html
           

  8. Ron

    Notwithstanding the demand created by UCD, I’m failing to see much difference between a low vacancy rate, vs. a tight “for-sale” market.

    In general, both represent demand to move to a particular area.  And, responding excessively to either will bypass slow-growth goals, and exceed SACOG requirements and the city’s 1% annual growth cap.

    At some point, you either accept limits on growth and development, or you don’t (and let the market demand dictate plans, as it does in most valley communities).

    1. Ron

      Alternatively, the city can focus on specific demands (such as student housing that UCD refuses to provide), resulting in a city of dormitories – without even any attempt at maintaining a fiscally and otherwise balanced city (e.g., for non-students, commercial activities, etc.).

      Seems like this alternative path is the one that’s been chosen, so far. But, I suspect that some will soon resume advocating for peripheral sprawl, to “address” other needs.

  9. David Greenwald

    More data coming out at the Davis Live Discussion.  Have some of it on Friday.

    But towards the issue of the student housing crisis, Don Gibson just said that one thing they found is that students are not moving out of town, rather they are doubling up in existing supply.  So he found in 2000, the average density was 2.37 per unit versus 3.0 now. (Remember they haven’t added supply since 2002, so it’s not that we have more rooms per apartment, it’s that more students are stuffing into existing supply).

    1. Matt Williams

      David, is achieving greater density through doubling up bad? Dorm rooms are doubles, so doubling up is consistent with the housing standard currently provided by UCD.

      FWIW, the standard for automobiles for UCD dormitory residents is zero … which I personally believe should be the standard for Davis Live (with ADA exceptions of course).

      1. David Greenwald

        Good or bad are subjective terms.

        I will say I have photos of the triples from UC Davis, not a lot of space at $925 per month (not including meals).  Good or bad?  I leave it to someone else.  FUll comments from Don, probably on Friday

        1. Matt Williams

          Doubles have been the standard in college/university dormitories for decades.  If that standard were “bad” colleges and universities would have changed that standard long ago. The dollars charged is irrelevant to an assessment of good or bad from a standard perspective.  From a value perspective dollars charged is indeed relevant.  However, as Ken has pointed out in prior threads the cost of housing for a UCD student is outstanding when compared to UCLA, Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, et. al.  Overall the UCD education is a bargain financially, and an outstanding ROI value.

        2. Ken A

          The double occupancy dorm room had been “the standard” for decades, but for as the average American home has been getting bigger while the average American family has been getting smaller (a lot smaller for the well educated with kids most likely to attend college) and more and more kids who have never shared a room are not ready to start when they go off to college so single rooms have actually been on the increase for at least the past 20 years.  I have red at least a dozen articles on this topic and this one from the Atlantic popped up with a Google search:

          https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/02/the-end-of-the-college-roommate/283621/

          Matt is correct that UCD has a great ROI for many people, but as the cost of college continues to rise a smaller a smaller number of people will come out ahead (even some people working in the field of their degree).  About 30% of the kids that start college never get a degree (at UCD and other top 50 schools with smarter than average kids it is much lower) and around another 30% end up working at a job that does not pay them a penny more because of the degree they have (I’m pretty sure that Starbucks does not require baristas to have a masters degree in women’s studies or medieval history).

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Here’s the thing: we haven’t built anything since 2002. That means that they aren’t stuffing into larger rooms, they are stuffing more people into the same rooms.

        3. Ken A

          The rent for a dorm is not as high as it looks since UC Davis does not require kids to pay rent year round like most apartments do.  Paying $900/month sounds high but it is only $8,100 for nine months (less per year than the kid paying $690/month in an apartment for 12 months when he staying with friends in Tahoe aka “homeless” over Christmas break and backpacking through Europe in the summer)…

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Actually that makes it worse not better. They are only paying that rent over nine months.

        4. Matt Williams

          David, are you serious?  You appear to be saying paying $8,100 a year for housing is worse than paying $10,800 a year?  You may want to rethink that.

          With that said, which is “worse” 9 months of $900 payments or 12 months of $690 payments?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Matt: What I’m saying is that 9 months of $900 is worse than 12 months of $690. Why? Because many students have to find a place to live the other three months.

        5. Matt Williams

          Ken that is an interesting article on a lot of levels.  Food for thought. It does omit one important piece of information though … specifically what is the monthly room rate  ratio between the super single rooms and the traditional double occupancy rooms.

          At the risk of offending Mark West again, one of the points the article illuminates is that for those students with access to the fiscal resources of their parents there is a substantial amount of “entitlement” that is at play.  Additionally, the kind of students Tia used as examples in her earlier comment effectively are priced out of the super singles options.

        6. Matt Williams

          David, the monthly rent at home for those three months is $0, or are you arguing that students don’t have parents and homes that they go to in the summer?

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Sizable percentage of students stay in Davis during the summer. Another sizable percentage do internships and other things. I don’t have the percentage of students who return home to their parents over the summer.

            According to UC Davis in 2016, summer school enrollment was nearly 12,000 – so about one-third. Based on just that number, I would guess far less than half the students return home to their parents homes over the summer.

        7. Ken A

          David needs to remember that any student that needs a place to live in Davis over the summer is in luck since with so many rooms to sublease you can almost always find a room for close to $100/month (as kids making a “Hobson’s Choice” decide that $300 is better than nothing).  Quite a few rooms sit empty in Davis all summer.

          I don’t remember the price difference between single, double and triple rooms at UCD off the top of my head but I remember seeing it on a web site not long ago (and at the housing websites at other schools).

          The number of “childless by choice” couples is increasing along with the “one and done” families especially in families of the super well educated (we were at a big party in SF with mostly HBS grads recently and I think we were the only family with three kids).

          Speaking of a “Hobson’s Choice” Cal has been forcing some kids in to triple rooms giving them a choice between living in a triple or not living in the dorms as a freshman (a cousin got stuck in a triple and living with a rich spoiled Piedmont kid that complained about it every day made it worse).

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that there are not many students subleasing a room for $100 over the summer.

            “I don’t remember the price difference between single, double and triple rooms at UCD off the top of my head but I remember seeing it on a web site not long ago (and at the housing websites at other schools).”

          2. David Greenwald Post author

            According to my students sources it’s more like $400 on the cheap, not $100.

        8. Matt Williams

          David’s chart is for room and board.  As we all know, the board/food portion is the same regardless of room occupancy … the amount of food needed by a single person.  So the table provided is not an apples to apples comparison of the comparative “occupancy” costs.

  10. Howard P

    First comment, re: chart David provided at 7:38 A… REALLY?  UCD uses 7 significant digits to determine a yearly “rate”?!?  Truly bizarre… Would have thunk it would at least be rounded to the 100’s… that would be 3 significant digits, within less than 1%…

    Next points…

    Difference between 5 & 7 day meal plans is $1,490.84/year… if that’s 3 meals each day, that works out to between $2,087.18/yr… if only two meals on weekends, it’s $2,306.88/year…

    Subtract the number you choose from total R&B, and you’ll get the “housing cost”… divide by 9 or twelve, depending on whether students have full year occupancy of the dorms, or just during normal academic year… in the 70’s, summer occupation was only avail. at additional cost.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for