By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – If the city council thought they had solved the problem of student housing with the approvals of multi-student housing projects over the last several years, those beliefs were dashed by a string of student commenters who told them otherwise.
“Last Tuesday night at my apartment complex, I saw about 30 to 40 students, mostly first year students with blankets, sleeping bags and tents sitting in front of our complex office waiting for the office to open the next morning in order to secure a lease for the next academic year,” a fourth year student told the council.
He continued, “They were sleeping there or some didn’t even sleep since about 6:00 PM the night before.”
He explained, “Some of them I recognized as friends and offered them food, a bathroom, as well as my apartment to sleep in the night, but they chose not to and decided to wait it out the entire night. And so when the office finally opened the next morning, many of them sadly could not sign a lease for the next year. Only about half, maybe even less are able to get a unit. So the fact that we have to turn to these sorts of measures and not even succeed in getting housing is appalling.”
This was no isolated account—another student, a first year at UC Davis also shared a personal experience.
“Last week, my friends and I camped out in the cold two times in front of two different apartment complexes only to fail to secure a lease. Even though we came more than 16 hours, and the hours in the cold hopped up on caffeine before the lease office would open, we were beat out by those before us,” he said.
He noted while “[t]his isn’t Berkeley, Santa Cruz or Santa Barbara, it’s Davis; securing second year housing should not be a stressful add-on to the stresses that students already face.
“I’m concerned that this housing element is inadequate to fix the crisis in a timely manner. Students are scared that the projects outlined in the housing element will end up unbuilt like Nishi and University Commons on top of that, the optimistic fund estimates that the element contains based on the more than hopeful ballot propositions which students have no influence on, and the state funds which are drying up soon.”
Another student came forward.
A freshman, he explained “this January my friends and I have spent a lot of our time looking for housing for next year. And over the course of the last few weeks, we’ve discovered all the problems facing the city in regards to housing. Searching for this housing has become extremely competitive to the point where apartments have already begun filling up. And this is before we’re even halfway through our school year. It’s become evident to us that there’s a very limited supply of housing in Davis to the detriment of the city and its residence.”
The Executive Director of the UC Davis College Democrats added, “I believe the currently proposed housing element is frankly inadequate in addressing Davis’s growing affordable housing needs.”
This was the message delivered over and over again by students on this evening.
He explained, “I believe the currently proposed housing element is frankly inadequate in addressing Davis’s growing affordable housing needs. While it’s important for the city council to quickly pass a suitable housing element to meet the state standards, we must recognize when these propositions simply do not go far enough.”
Like the others, he noted, “Not only as a student, but as a member of this community, I’ve experienced and watched as my friends and classmates go through the tedious and frankly ridiculous process of finding housing and landing a lease that is within their price range from students literally camping out in front of the Almond Wood apartments in hopes of getting a lease to many, to many of our housing prospects for the next year, being tied to arbitrary housing lotteries.”
Jackson Mills, a third-year student at UC Davis, expressed his concern arguing, “I believe that this updated document still does not go far enough, to address housing in Davis over the next decade.”
Meanwhile Francis Haydock, President of the College Democrats, added that she did not believe the housing element went “nearly far enough to alleviate the housing crisis that students like me are experiencing.”
Like the others, she noted, “In the four years I’ve been a student at UC Davis, I’ve repeatedly witnessed the mad rush to sign housing contracts in January and February, which is nearly nine months before students are even able to move into these residents.”
She said, “This is absurd and it happens because there is such a lack of housing in Davis that students are forced to sign leases early, compete viciously with each other for the cheapest and most affordable rent, and subsequently stressed about not being able to find affordable housing in their price range.”
She added, “The situation is simply untenable and should not be allowed to continue.”
Councilmember Gloria Partida was surprised by the students’ accounts.
She told the Vanguard, “It’s disappointing to hear that students are still unable to readily find housing. It highlights the depth of issue and how far behind we are. It also means that if students can’t find housing nether can young families with children.”