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On Campus: Student Housing Expands to Meet Growing Need

Student housing is a big concern shared by our Golden Bears and their parents. The rising cost of rent in the Bay Area, and in Berkeley, in particular, is creating serious financial challenges for students, while pushing them further away from campus in search of available and affordable housing. By some estimates, Bay Area rents have increased more than 50 percent since 2000.

Chancellor Carol Christ has made the development of new, affordable housing a key priority for the campus and has publicly committed to doubling the number of housing units for Berkeley students.

In June 2016, then-Provost Christ formed a task force charged with developing a master housing plan for the campus, given UC Berkeley’s growing student population. Last April, to help inform campus decisions on housing matters, students were invited to participate in a survey. The task force will use the data and feedback from that survey to best meet student needs.

An exciting UC Berkeley housing project recently announced by the chancellor is David Blackwell Hall, at 2400 Bancroft Way, just one block from campus. The residence hall, which will house about 750 students on seven floors starting in Fall 2018, honors David Blackwell, Berkeley’s first tenured black professor and a preeminent statistician. Blackwell, who died in 2010, is an “exemplar of what Berkeley stands for: scholarly excellence of the highest caliber tied to a mission of social justice and inclusion,” Christ wrote in a letter nominating Blackwell.

Blackwell Hall’s ground floor will contain retail space and Stiles Hall, a community center for students. The hall will have an onsite fitness facility, lounges and study rooms on each floor and laundry facilities. Only one block away will be Cal Dining’s Café 3.

The housing task force is taking steps toward the construction of additional residential units on university-owned property. Discussions are ongoing and in early phases, and the campus will be collaborating with numerous community stakeholders.

Housing also is being expanded through new leases for multi-unit buildings, and agreements are in place with nearby colleges and universities with excess housing capacity. For example, in the last two years, lease agreements were signed with the owners of the New Sequoia Apartments at 2441 Haste Street and with Garden Village, an apartment complex at 2201 Dwight Way. These agreements provided hundreds of new beds to students through the campus housing office. Additionally, UC Berkeley offers programs such as Cal Rentals to help students find off-campus housing and connect with private landlords.

Students experiencing difficulties related to the cost of attendance are encouraged to meet with an adviser at the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office as soon as possible to discuss funding options. Berkeley has many programs to help students understand and use their financial resources, whether through financial wellness peer mentoring, one-on-one financial aid guidance from professional staff or special programs for students in urgent need who may qualify for emergency loans.