It might sound like the premise for a new sitcom, but the University of California, Santa Cruz, says it’s no laughing matter, reports KTVU.
An email Monday from the university asks professors and employees to rent rooms to the hundreds of UC Santa Cruz students who’ve been unable to find housing after a surge in enrollment.
“The need is real and it is urgent, so I am reaching out to the faculty and staff community for help,” the email from Dave Keller, executive director of housing services, reads.
About half the university’s 18,000 students, more than at many schools, live on campus, according to KTVU. The rest must find housing in the community, which has been hit by skyrocketing Bay Area housing prices.
“We’ve seen more influence from Silicon Valley as people are priced out of that market, they come to Santa Cruz to be somewhere affordable they can live,” said Scott Hernandez-Jason, a UC Santa Cruz spokesperson, reported the station.
The university’s community rental office shows only 172 rooms available off-campus in Santa Cruz, reported KPIX. Several hundred students remain on a waiting list for housing.
“Landlords are kind of jacking up the prices because they know about this,” Leon Pham, a UC Santa Cruz senior, said, according to the station. “I’ve actually talked to about 30-40 landlords… It’s crazy out there.”
“In March, the average price for a single-family home in Santa Cruz County reached $933,000,” with average rents in excess of $2,000, reported The Mercury News. Individual rooms in homes run $1,000 or more.
New on-campus housing for 3,000 additional students is in the planning stages, reported The Santa Cruz Sentinel.
The university guarantees two years of on-campus housing to incoming freshmen and one year to incoming transfer students, and has met those obligations, reported The Mercury News.
Part of the housing problem stems from an increase in the number of transfer students accepted by the university after earlier criticism for failing to admit enough, the publication reported.
Hernandez-Jason, the university spokesperson, told KPIX that administrators hope professors and other employees can help take up the slack, even just for a little while until more housing opens up.
“A lot of those houses may have an extra room that someone hadn’t been considering renting, and maybe this email will get them thinking ‘OK, let me rent it out this year and see how it goes,’ ” Hernandez-Jason said, reported the station.
But student Natalya Jackson told KTVU that she’s dubious.
“They want staff and faculty who are already struggling in this housing market to do the job of what they’re not willing to do, which is find an actual solution,” she said, reported the station.