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Big changes in store for Berkeley’s student housing

By Public Affairs

As Berkeley and much of the Bay Area face rising housing costs, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ intends to double the number of student beds available to undergraduate and graduate students in the next 10 years.

UC Berkeley currently provides close to 8,700 beds for some 42,000 graduate and undergraduate students, the lowest percentage in the University of California system.

“I think housing is the most urgent need we have,” Christ said earlier this year. “I think it’s a crisis of such proportion that if we do not address it it will ultimately compromise the excellence of the campus because it will be harder for us to recruit graduate students and undergraduates.”

Christ’s plan calls for 7,500 new student beds to be added by 2028 at sites like People’s Park, the Oxford Tract and Albany Village. Campus leaders are searching for a master developer who can lead the outreach, design and construction effort.

Already this year the campus has added 836 new beds through long-term leases with developers and the opening of the new, 752-bed Blackwell Hall.

A view of Blackwell Hall looking up.

Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small

This spring, Christ announced plans to collaborate with city leaders to develop People’s Park, an often-controversial piece of open space owned by the university just a few blocks from the campus.

The plan calls for roughly 1,000 student beds, and separate space dedicated to supportive housing for needy residents.

“We are beginning our efforts on the People’s Park site because it is the only university-owned property that allows the campus to simultaneously address student housing needs; relieve demand-side price pressure on the city’s housing market; address crime and safety concerns for the benefit of city and campus communities; revitalize a neighborhood and offer improved safety and services for members of Berkeley’s homeless population,” Christ said when she announced the plan earlier this year.

Illustration of People's Park plan.

Read more about the plan for People’s Park and learn more about the concept drawings.

But earlier this month, move-in day continued as it always does with thousands of eager freshman and transfer students arriving with new shower totes, clothes, sheets and decorations, along with heaps of anxiety and anticipation.

“It is a lot of nervousness,” Alex Samano, 17, of Modesto, said as he stood with his parents outside of Unit 2 waiting to check out his room for the first time. “But that sense of adventure is back. I haven’t had it since the start of high school.”

Two students moving into a dorm room

Inside a new dorm room in Blackwell Hall

Brittany Hosea-Small photo

Take a tour of Blackwell Hall, UC Berkeley’s newest residence named for David Blackwell, the first black professor to receive tenure at UC Berkeley and a preeminent statistician who died in 2010.

See more photos of Blackwell Hall, and read about David Blackwell remarkable legacy at UC Berkeley.