/ Education / Housing

Background

The price of UCSC on-campus housing is $14,861 a year, making it the third most expensive college room and board in the nation (www.usnews.com). While on-campus housing is well-maintained and in an ideal location for going to classes, it is difficult for students to afford for their entire undergraduate career. Off-campus housing provides a more affordable alternative, however, many students encounter problems with off-campus housing, and their presence sometimes creates problems for neighbors. What can be done?


Purpose

This workshop aims to identify the issues surrounding on- and off-campus student housing options in Santa Cruz. Within this workshop we also hope to discuss the repercussions of students living in local neighborhoods and the effect their presence has on community members.

Introduction

The city of Santa Cruz is a small town with a growing population. Housing in Santa Cruz can be difficult to obtain for students and non-student community members alike. Given the large student body and limited campus rentals, students may struggle to find housing at an affordable price and reasonable location.

Non-student community members face the same expensive, scarcity-plagued rental market the students do. Both groups must navigate a distorted rental market where constant demand, limits on supply and high property values result in owners charging high prices for mediocre goods.

The price of UCSC on-campus housing is $14,861 a year, making it the third most expensive college room and board in the nation (www.usnews.com). While on-campus housing is well-maintained and in an ideal location, obviously, for going to classes, it is difficult for students to afford for their entire undergraduate career.

Another option for students is to seek off-campus housing, which is generally more affordable and located close to businesses and the downtown shopping area. However, many students encounter problems with off-campus housing, and their presence sometimes creates problems for their neighbors. Some of these issues follow.

Issues Students Encounter With Housing

• Rental competition to acquire housing

• Illegal units

• Conflicts with community members in the neighborhoods

• Poorly maintained units

• Property owners in violation of city codes

• Distance of the unit from UCSC

• Price of the unit > Quality of Unit

Issues Landlords and Community Members Encounter

• Party houses disturbing the neighborhoods

• Rental market distortion (high prices and scarce availability) for community at large due in part to heavy student demand

• Garbage and miscellaneous items left by students moving in/out

• Unsightly and poorly maintained units in neighborhoods

• Tenants destroying or vandalizing the property

• Tenants breaking the law within the property

• Too many tenants illegally living in a unit

• Constant rotation of students every year in the neighborhoods

Santa Cruz Rental Ordinance

The Santa Cruz Residential Rental Inspection Program went into effect on October 7, 2010. The program was passed in order to identify dwellings that do not meet the minimum housing, zoning, and safety codes. According to the ordinance, over half of all the residential housing units of the city are rental units. The goal of the Rental Ordinance is to protect the health and safety of tenants, and keep the neighborhoods satisfied as well. Under the ordinance, there is an annual inspection of rental units in the City of Santa Cruz. If a unit is in violation of city's housing and safety codes, it becomes a "red tagged" dwelling. Property owners of red tagged units are then required to provide a time frame for when the violations will be corrected. For more information on the Rental Ordinance, be sure to click the link in the Learn section of this workshop.

Research

In the research phase we collect data, stories, news, and any other information that will help us learn about the problem.

Ideas

In the ideas phase we brainstorm solutions to the problem using everything we learned during the research phase.

Initiatives

In the initiatives phase we develop ideas into concrete proposals that can be compared based on a common set of metrics.

Final Rating

In the final rating phase you cast your vote for the best initiatives - additional edits to the initiatives are not allowed at this time.

Winning Initiatives

Winning initiatives announced. How the winners are determined depends on the workshop facilitators. Some may choose to use voting as the only factor. Others may include their own assessment of factors such as how well an initiative meets the workshop goals or its feasibility.

Impact

In the impact phase we follow the progress of each of the winning initiatives to see how they're doing and continue learning and refinement.


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