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April 22, 2002

Campus Welfare Committee taking a look at principles, policies on housing

By Louise Donahue

If you have ideas about who should be eligible for the UCSC for-sale and rental housing program, the Campus Welfare Committee wants to hear from you.

If everything goes according to the current timetable--including the acquisition of the Laureate Court project--the campus expects to have 22 condominium units at Hagar Court for sale by January 2003.
Current housing policy is being reviewed by the Campus Welfare Committee (CWC) at the request of Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor John Simpson.

The Campus Welfare Committee is made up of administrators, Academic Senate members, Staff Advisory Board members, and graduate and undergraduate student representatives.

In a March 14 letter, Simpson directed the CWC to "revisit the issue of priority both for for sale and for lease campus properties, and develop recommendations for a single uniform prioritization methodology for the campus." The committee's recommendations are due by June 15, 2002.

Input from the campus community is being sought online and at a public forum, scheduled to take place on May 20. (The location will be announced later.)

The review of housing access policies comes as UCSC is seeking to expand its housing stock by purchasing the 64-unit Laureate Court Apartments, adjacent to the main entrance. The current property owners have signed a letter of intent with the campus. See earlier story. In addition, the on-campus Hagar Court Apartments, all two-bedroom units, will be converted into for-sale condominiums, with renovations on some units expected to start in late September.

The campus also has plans to develop and build 95 three- and four-bedroom homes at the Inclusion Area D site.

Elise Levinson, director of Facilities and Asset Development for the Colleges, Housing, Dining and Child Care Services, said the planned purchase of the Laureate Court Apartments and the conversion of the Hagar Court Apartments is designed to provide a "bridge" until Inclusion Area D is completed. At that point, it is thought that homeowners and renters who need more room will move up to the larger homes, freeing up other spaces.

Levinson said that if everything goes according to the current timetable--including the acquisition of the Laureate Court project--the campus expects to have 22 condominium units at Hagar Court for sale by January 2003.

Meeting on April 16, the CWC was given an overview of the faculty-staff for-sale and rental housing program's evolution.

When university housing was first offered for sale in the lower campus in the mid-1980s, about 20 to 25 percent of the units were sold to staff members, and there was no backlog of applicants, said Levinson.

While the number of annual sales was as high as 13 in the '80s and 11 in the early 1990s, by the late 1990s the tight housing market reduced housing turnover dramatically. "In the early years, people moved on," noted Levinson. No units were sold in 2001 and there has been one sale so far in 2002.

While still called "faculty-staff housing," staff members' low priority on the waiting list has meant that they have almost never had access to the housing in recent years. Ladder-rank faculty are given priority on both the rental and for-sale waiting lists. The Campus Welfare Committee did not consider any formal proposals to change the policy, but several issues were discussed, including:

  • Housing as an asset. Social Sciences Dean Martin Chemers, a committee member, noted that Simpson has said housing is a campus asset and should be used to enhance the institution's mission. "I hope that we can pull away from our constituencies to look at the whole benefit," he said.

  • Redesigning the waiting lists. Members discussed the possibility of having the for-sale waiting lists divided into the kind of homes sought, so that people who are in the market only for a 3- or 4-bedroom house are not on the general list for all homes.

  • Recruitment or retention? Chemers said that at one time faculty-staff housing was a recruitment device, but it is now also a retention device, because if people can't get off-campus housing, they will leave. "It's both things, and our policy has to reflect that."

  • Staff eligibility. Karleen Meaker of the Staff Advisory Board said that if it turns out that there is no possibility that staff will qualify for the housing, that should be stated clearly, to avoid deceiving people. She also said that "staff housing" should not mean housing limited to administrators. "If it only includes administrators, it should not say 'staff.' "

  • Housing inventory. Members discussed the importance of increasing the overall stock of both for-sale and rental housing and that the inventory needed to be as diverse as possible. "No one project, price range or type of housing unit will meet the needs of all prospective buyers/renters--we need to find ways to increase our stock and diversify the inventory as much as possible," said Levinson.

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