Lawmakers from California have agreed to allocate $500 million of the state budget to address housing insecurity within higher education. The money would primarily support public colleges and universities in building additional properties or repairing current housing.
The multi-million dollar project follows the state’s commitment to improve local college education by providing $2 billion over three years, according to Cal Matters.
UCLA urban planning professor Paavo Monkkonen expressed his belief that the housing project would be a good use of state money since it would be a one-time expense that can reap profits repeatedly over time.
But Monkkonen also urges state leaders to create even more units after the project, believing that the amount may not provide enough accommodations for tens of thousands of college students in California.
“A better system would be one in which there’s a long-term plan to grow the stock sufficiently that everyone that wants to live there, can,” he said.
In the 2018-2019 survey conducted by the California Student Aid Commission, nearly one-third of students have reported housing and food insecurity. The problem was most apparent in the Central Valley (42 percent) and Greater Sacramento (41 percent) regions, while the rest of the state met or exceeded 30 percent.
Many students either live in their cars or temporarily reside with family members or friends, a precarious and stressful lifestyle that undermines their efforts to earn a college degree.
Constructing housing needed to meet the demand for all public colleges and universities would require more than the $500 million set by the state, but experts say that any amount will do for now.
“It’s a drop in the bucket, but every drop counts,” said Dana Cuff, a UCLA professor and director of CityLab, an urban design research center.