UC Santa Cruz asks professors to rent their spare rooms to students who couldn't get housing guarantees

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/09/08/homeless-students.html


Knowing a little about the financial situation of UC employees, I wonder how many Santa Cruz faculty members own homes.


There couldn’t be 6000 faculty for ~19,000 students, so that must include staff at all levels. On one hand - few would have extra space in an area where houses can easily cost $600 a sq foot. On the other, creative solution to a complex problem in a place that prides itself on lessening environmental impact. I’m not mad about it.


There are a lot of communities living somewhat off the grid in the Santa Cruz hills, but it’s even odds whether you’ll land in a hippie commune or a white nationalist compound. (It’s an odd mix.)


I know one guy who is a assistant prof. of history there. He rents & gets paid industry average salary (roughly $75K). Has roomates & cannot afford a house.

Even if he didn’t pay taxes & establishes a 2 income family he couldn’t qualify for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage. A mortgage w/ property tax & insurance would cost roughly $60,000 in cash per year.

I wonder if polygamy would be a decent option - at the very least to establish a 3 or 4 income household - if not for anything else.


The request is to faculty and staff. Santa Cruz is not Silicon Valley by any sane map. The campus wants to build a bunch of new housing but faces the Ansel Adams admonition that no building should ever be visible from the streets, so anything new either means keeping treehuggers from occupying doomed forest or filling a deer-grazing meadow that has unobstructed view of forest, beaches, bay, and mountains with a multi-story housing complex.


Is adobe an option?

UC Santa Cruz has had a long-standing student housing problem, which started before housing got so expensive. It started with the university, against student wishes, hugely expanding its classrooms and student population without adding sufficient new dorms or other on-campus housing. This immediately resulted in insufficient dorm space for even the freshmen, who were required to live on campus. (At that point dorms were significantly more expensive than sharing a house off campus, and before the expansion of the student population, dorms were under-occupied.) They were housing freshmen off-campus in motels, and turned dormitory lounges into rooms, etc. This segued right into rising housing costs, which just compounded the problem, as the university had come to heavily rely on off-campus housing.


I work at a different university (SJSU) but I’m in awe of professors and staff who could buy their homes twenty or thirty years ago, it’s such a different picture now. Fuck keeping up with just inflation, housing costs have gotten so high that it’s a wonder anybody young lives here at all. The wages just don’t support it.
We’ve got a new 19-story building being built off-campus that’s ostensibly going to house students, but it’s not going to be set aside for them, it’s just “geared” to students (read: really small shared rooms that are semi-furnished) and the rent will be market-rate.
Housing is gross. Every now and then I’m tempted to toss 95% of my stuff and get a big van to live in.


IIIRC Stanford and Berkeley has houses they own and only rent to faculty (at a price affordable on the salary.)

Surprised Santa Cruz isn’t similar.


Hahaha! How shitty. So instead of paying them enough to own a home…they take half their salary right back in exchange for a cheap rental. They should cut their salaries further and then offer to sell them subsidised food.


I left the state and work remotely. Even in my little shit-ass red state town, money’s tight after the mortgage.

Most universities don’t. However, there are a few more that do. Columbia, for example.

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Even if they do, living with students sounds at best uncomfortable and at worst dangerous. As the article says:

When asked about the appropriateness of a professor renting out a room to a student, Hernandez-Jason didn’t object to the idea.

“You know, we have campus policies that govern the conduct of students and professors, and we have mechanisms to investigate any problems that might arise in those sorts of situations.”

No big deal, just a Title IX investigation.


I had a friend once whose boss was his landlord. Did not work out well at all.


This article is confusing; UC Santa Cruz has TWO campuses, one of which is the traditional one in the hills of Santa Cruz, the other is in an office building off Highway 101 in Santa Clara.

The housing problem is in Santa Clara from what I know.

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I don’t want to get into exact figures, but IIRC they were paying a fair portion in rent, somewhere around 25%. Extremely below market given the location. Extremely responsive maintenance, better than any private landlord I’ve had.

I agree it sucks they weren’t paid more, but let’s not make it out worse than it was.

A buddy in grad school (aka uni employee via being a TA) lived in a house the university bought. They were slowly buying the houses in the neighborhood until they had a plot of land big enough for a new building.

He was told informally by maintanence that the house would be demolished when his lease ended, so not to worry as long as he didn’t do anything outright dangerous like mess with electricity/gas lines.

So basically, he threw a lot of parties. Didn’t mind much if beer spilled or walls scuffed. Let people smoke cigs and… other things… in the basement.

(He wasn’t a total asshole, these were evenings/weekends… usually around end of term, post exams etc.)

If anything I got the impression they were deathly afraid of being seen as coercing their employees - I knew a few people in similar situations who had neighbors from hell who would have been evicted quickly by a private landlord.


If we all move to Vegas it can be burning man every day!

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Quite a few have some form of heavily subsidized rental housing for new hires.

Even if they do, living with students sounds at best uncomfortable and at worst dangerous.

I agree 100%, this is a terrible idea. Positively Ronellian.

I’ve had students staying in my house, but never when I was within 2000 miles of it.

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I may want to retract “most”. It isn’t unheard of, anyway.

I keep thinking that you are in Hawaii for some reason.

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