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June 9, 2003

New Housing Access Policy sets up lottery for staffers wanting to buy

By Louise Donahue

"Winning the lottery" may soon have a different meaning for UCSC staff members. The campus has overhauled its policy on access to scarce on-campus housing units, giving staff members a chance--through a lottery--to join faculty members seeking on-campus housing units.

Campus Welfare Committee sought input from wide variety of sources in developing new policy. (More)

These Hagar Meadow town homes are part of the housing stock at UCSC. Photo: Chris Myers

Under the new Housing Access Policy, a fixed allocation of available rental and for-sale units will be distributed to eligible faculty, staff, and non-Academic Senate academics under this formula:

• 80 percent faculty
• 15 percent staff
• 5 percent non-senate academics

To be eligible, employees must work 100 percent time and have a minimum of a one-year appointment.

The new policy follows nearly a year of discussion and analysis by the Campus Welfare Committee at the direction of Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor John Simpson. (See sidebar)

"It was a long, thoughtful process," said Associate Vice Chancellor Jean Marie Scott, who served as a member of the committee. "The committee worked extremely hard to make sure they could obtain a fair policy that supported the campus's academic mission as well as a number of guiding principles set forth at the onset of the process by the welfare committee."

While in theory both faculty and staff were eligible to buy or rent on campus before, senate faculty had top priority. Limited supply and high faculty demand meant that very few employees other than senate faculty have ever had the opportunity to purchase housing.

Demand far exceeds supply

Faculty and Staff Housing manager Steve Houser noted that the relative scarcity of for-sale housing (80 units) and extremely high demand made the allocation decision especially difficult for the Campus Welfare Committee. Even when additional housing stock (50 Hagar Court Condominiums) is added, this imbalance meant that most interested staff would never be able to buy campus housing.

The lottery for staff was created because the committee wanted to balance the staff waiting list between existing employees and those yet to come to the campus. Without a lottery, UCSC would have faced the potential of hundreds of applicants from the approximately 2,000 "career" staff members on campus.

This is how the lottery will work:
o Staff members and non-senate academics must e-mail the housing office (facultyhousing@ucsc.edu) and request to be put on the for-sale housing list.
o Fifty staff members and 15 non-senate academics will then be randomly selected from the pool and placed on a waiting list.

Transition to new system

One of the major issues the Campus Welfare Committee had to decide was how to deal with the 86 faculty members who were on the for-sale waiting list under the old policy.

These faculty members have been placed on a "Transition List," and
will have the first chance at any for-sale housing that comes open, explained Houser.

Unlike past practice, those on the Transition List are required to state in writing their preferences for type of housing and number of bedrooms. When a unit matching their preferences comes open, they must either buy the unit or be removed from the list. Further information on the Transition List is available online.

Houser said that introducing a consequence for turning down a unit will assist sellers of homes, as it will now be very easy to identify interested parties of particular units. The data from prospective buyers "helps applicants know exactly where they are in line for a particular type of unit," he said.

Rentals as 'landing pad'

In addition to changes in for-sale access, the policy also alters the rules on renting. The Campus Welfare Committee wanted to reinforce the notion that rental properties are to be used as "a landing pad," said Houser, not as permanent housing.

"Although the units are priced below market, the intention is for new employees to relocate to Santa Cruz, adjust to the community, and move on," he said.

In keeping with that philosophy, rental rules have been tightened:

• Rental property will be available only for those whose hiring date was two years ago or less.

• Renters cannot move back into units once they have left. "One rental term of a maximum of three years will be allowed, but should a resident move out, they will not be eligible for another unit," said Houser.

New apartments, new condominiums

Houser said he expects some 12 to 18 units of rental housing to be available in fall and winter for staff as the Hagar Court Condominiums open. A rental application can be filled out online.

Many UCSC renters--including quite a few now living in apartments managed by Faculty and Staff Housing--are planning to purchase these units. Hagar Court Condominiums--all two-bedroom units--are to be converted from apartments and remodeled. They are expected to sell for between $200,000 and $220,000, a bargain by Santa Cruz standards. "They'll be very popular, I'm sure," Houser said.

Twenty-two condo units are expected to be ready in late September, and another 28 in late December. He noted that buyers cannot sell the units later for market price; selling prices are tied to an inflation index.

UCSC's rental supply underwent a major change with the acquisition of Laureate Court Apartments, just across from the main entrance to campus at Bay and High Streets. Laureate Court has 49 two-bedroom and 15 one-bedroom apartments.

The campus has been leasing units there since 2002 and will take possession of the property about July 31. The Laureate Court purchase and conversion of Hagar Court to condominiums was approved by the Board of Regents in 2003.

The housing office will have a series of information sessions in early summer to go over the policy changes. For more information about the housing policy or to be contacted about an upcoming housing information session, e-mail the housing office.

Related Currents stories:

UCSC expanding university housing with purchase of apartment complex

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

Forum participants push for additional employee housing

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