UCSB students frustrated with college as they face huge housing shortage | Local News
Amid all the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the community of Isla Vista appears to be in the throes of another challenge: an unprecedented housing shortage.
UC Santa Barbara students scramble to find accommodation near the seaside campus just weeks before the start of the 2021-22 school year, with some desperately considering living in their cars or tents just to keep up. courses at the prestigious four-year university.
“I was literally crying on the phone with the university housing department. What am I supposed to do? I’ve never been homeless in my life, ”UCSB third-year transfer student Alexandria Matthews told Noozhawk. “My education is my # 1 priority, so I’ll sleep in my car if I have to. “
The community of Isla Vista is home to thousands of UCSB and Santa Barbara City College students, in addition to long-time residents, due to its proximity to the UCSB campus.
While many factors play into the current housing crisis, including high university enrollment rates and the number of university housing, many students blame what they see as UCSB’s lack of communication. on returning to face-to-face classes and accommodation options.
Many students told Noozhawk that UCSB did not announce the return of in-person classes for the fall term of 2021-2022 until a few months before the start of the school year, leaving students with little time to figure out. their living conditions.
“(The university) kept saying, ‘We won’t force you to show up in person’, ‘there will be a lot of options for online courses. “I talked to three people in college all summer long, then I went to plan my classes for the end of July and suddenly they’re all in person,” Matthews said. “UCSB really let me down, and now I’m probably going to be living in my car for a while just because they screwed up.”
Economics graduate Naresh Pillay told Noozhawk that many students did not sign the 12-month leases in February or March as they normally would due to the COVID-19 situation at the time and because the The university did not have a clear plan whether classes were going to be in person or online until mid-summer. The UCSB has organized almost all of its 2020-21 courses online.
“It caused a rush for new and old students very late in the housing search period, which caused a lot of these problems,” he said.
Michelle Roberson, owner of Sierra Property Management Co., said all of Sierra’s leases were filled between mid-July and the end of July and there is no housing available for the student body.
“The demand for housing is very high at the moment. We are contacted several times a day by people looking for accommodation preferably in Isla Vista, ”Roberson told Noozhawk. “But they’re getting pretty desperate now, so people are even looking for places further afield.”
Roberson said the leasing situation was “tenuous” with “a lot of maybe” because students were unsure whether they would return to campus.
“It was almost a perfect storm. At the same time, the university was making its offers to people and letting first year students know that they did not have enough accommodation for them, at the same time as they announced the return to classes in person, ”a- she declared. “The returning students who just found out they could come back are the people who were left behind. “
Students posted to the Reddit forums asking if there were places to sleep in tents in Isla Vista due to lack of housing, and other students offered ideas on how to live without cars and where. park them long term at Isla Vista.
UC Santa Barbara accommodation includes on-campus dormitories such as Anacapa Hall. (Photo by Jade Martinez-Pogue / Noozhawk)
Wesley Denstaedt, a fifth-year student at UCSB, said all housing pages on Facebook appeared to represent a 10-to-1 ratio between those looking for housing and those looking to fill positions.
“At this point, I am very anxious about finding accommodation to return to UCSB. I try to console myself that I should be lucky enough to have a vehicle to sleep in at this time, ”he said.
Another factor that plays into the housing shortage is that the number of university-owned housing has not kept up with the increase in enrollment.
The university has admitted an increasing number of students since the 2010-11 academic year, and new student enrollments have increased by nearly 2,000 during that 10-year period. The university has added 1,515 new beds to its housing stock since 2010, according to Andrea Estrada, spokesperson for UCSB.
The university’s eight freshman dorms can accommodate a total of 4,875 residents, and the university-owned Tropicana Gardens in Isla Vista can accommodate 550. According to the university’s housing website, 725 apartments are booked. to upper class students off campus.
In 2010, UC’s board of directors adopted a 10-year long-term development plan for the Santa Barbara campus which proposed an enrollment cap of 25,000 students until 2025.
Growing enrollments and stagnant housing opportunities have resulted in a waiting list for university housing of more than 900 students for this academic year, according to Zachary Brennan, legal director of the Isla Vista Tenant Union.
UCSB spokesperson Shelly Leachman said the university “plans to maximize our campus, including the use of triples, and is exploring several options to help students who are struggling to find housing.”
Leachman said UCSB is not alone in facing current housing challenges and that “the market is just extremely tight for anyone looking to relocate, not just students.”
In a meeting between some members of the university’s associate students and the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Margaret Klawuun, Klawuun said the university was prioritizing freshmen and transferring students to university accommodation. , according to the reports of this meeting.
In order to meet the demand for housing, the university has asked residents of nearby Goleta to consider renting empty rooms in their homes to students.
“Due to a lack of availability in the community, some UCSB students find themselves without housing options in the fall. If you have an additional room in your home, please consider opening up your space and renting it out to UCSB students, ”the post wrote.
After the message was published, a Change.org petition was launched to pressure the university to address the housing shortage.
“The UCSB has failed to adequately address this situation, and a growing number of students and / or their parents fear that they will be homeless, live off their cars or be unable to start studies at UCSB, “writes the petition.
As of Tuesday, nearly 1,800 people had signed the petition.
(Photo of UCSB housing)
Nick Thomas, a third-year environmental studies student, said that after being unable to complete his first year of college on campus due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, he is now forced to withdraw the trimester fall from UCSB and take an online course at SBCC due to inability to find accommodation.
“I thought a leading UC would be able to accommodate their students by offering them housing options instead of accepting more than they can put into housing,” Thomas told Noozhawk. “The school then continues to put the blame not only on the students, but also on members of the surrounding community by asking people to open their additional rooms for the students.
“It’s pretty unfortunate to see what the students went through. Many of us have devoted countless hours to making sure we have a bright future, and it sucks that we had such a big roadblock because of decisions made by the Chancellor and the staff. “
In addition to the university housing shortage, many students told Noozhawk they were frustrated with the university’s lack of help in finding housing.
A second-year biology student told Noozhawk that without the help of fellow students and staff on housing options and the advice that typically comes with in-person orientation, freshmen in the 2020 school year -21 have not had the opportunity to connect with housing services on the options.
“For those of us who stayed home the first year and are new to life at UCSB / Isla Vista, UCSB has given us little instruction on how to find rental listings in Isla. Vista, ”she said. “As second-year students are generally expected to live off campus, this was important information. “
Matthews, the third-year transfer student, said the university just told her to check Craigslist or Facebook housing pages.
The university has not been “transparent about anything,” Brennan said, leaving students to ask questions of the Isla Vista tenants union that even he doesn’t know how to answer.
“Most of the problem is we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Brennan said. “We have this Delta variant, and we have the school restarting, and on top of that, there’s this huge housing shortage. “
Ed St. George of St. George and Associates property management company said the university is not doing an adequate job of explaining how to navigate housing in Isla Vista.
“In my opinion, one of the things UCSB does that really hurts students is that every summer they tell students to wait and look for a place to live,” St. George told Noozhawk. “So the college kids in town started looking earlier, and the university told all these kids to wait to start looking, and then all the places were gone. “
Because homes near SBCC also fill up quickly, many of those students end up renting in Isla Vista, St. George said.
“The UCSB must understand that the city university starts first, and since there is no place to live in the city center, the students of the city university occupy a huge amount of accommodations in Isla Vista, and I think this is a terrible disservice for UCSB students. Isla Vista was designed for the university.
SBCC started classes on Monday and UCSB begins classes for its fall term on September 23rd.
Once UCSB announced the return to in-person classes, all St. George and Associates properties were leased within two weeks, he said.
“There are a lot of issues involved, and they’re all related,” said Brennan. “We have students who think they are going to live in their car or buy a motorhome to live in. It’s just a huge housing crisis.