Berkeley students PROTEST housing shortage: 43% were homeless FWD

Tom Boland (
Tue, 13 Apr 1999 21:57:27 -0700 (PDT)

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Can anyone update the report below?

"A recent Associated Students survey found that 43 percent of students have
been temporarily homeless since first coming to Cal." [UC-Berkeley] -- from
article below
FWD  [California, USA]  Contra Costa Times - April 6, 1999


     Despite the protesters' complaints, university officials say
     they are working to provide more affordable housing

     By Tony Mercado - times staff writer

BERKELEY -- UC-Berkeley junior Noah Schubert didn't mind camping out in the
rain Monday on the doorsteps of the university's housing office.

If school officials don't find a way, and soon, to provide more affordable
student housing, the 21-year-old student said, he might as well get used to
sleeping outdoors.

"There's going to be a lot of us out in the cold, as we are now, if the
university doesn't come through," said Schubert.

About a dozen students calling themselves the Berkeley Coalition for
Student Housing, huddled in jackets and sleeping bags for the second night
in a row. Many of the same students slept Sunday night by the front door of
Chancellor Robert Berdahl's home.

University officials countered the protesters' message, saying the school
is working to ease the housing crunch. Jesus Mena, a university spokesman,
said Cal plans to add 400 to 500 beds within the next five years in
Berkeley and Oakland.

"We know there's a problem," said Mena. "We're trying hard, and we're
working on it."

Officials and students blame a Jan. 1 change in state rent control laws
that let landlords charge market rates for vacant rentals. Average rents
have risen 20 percent this year. Cal officials, though, said they
recognized a desperate need for more student housing long before the new

A recent Associated Students survey found that 43 percent of students have
been temporarily homeless since first coming to Cal. Seventy percent of
commuting students said they couldn't move closer to campus because of a
lack of affordable housing.

Students said they pay as much as $1,400 for a studio. Three-bedroom units
can run as high as $2000.

"For a student, that's outrageous," said Kaci Elder, a 22-year-old senior
who was part of the sleep-out protest. "A lot of us are starting to feel
like we don't have any options."

In 1990, the university's board of regents approved a long-range plan that
called for 2,000 to 4,000 more beds.

Among the slated projects, Cal officials said they plan to rebuild office
space near People's Park to provide 200 beds. Two dining facilities in
dormitories will be closed and rebuilt as rooms for another 200 beds.
Underhill, a full square block of university land slated for renovation,
will include dining commons, administrative offices and parking. Student
housing there could offer 300 to 500 beds, said Irene Hegarty, Cal's
director of community relations.

And a short-term partnership with Oakland's Mills College will allow
students in the fall to fill a vacant dormitory with 60 beds. The
university also has created 75 new spaces by putting two or three students
in one dorm room.

City Councilman Kriss Worthington, clad in pajamas and clutching a teddy
bear at the protest, said the university is not moving fast enough.

"If we don't start doing this right away, we'll never see those beds," he said.


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