California is reaching new heights in homelessness as college students, and the colleges themselves, face housing issues.
Housing has been an essential issue in California, within the population there is an estimated 28% of people that are homeless and the numbers climb year after year. This has been reflected in some colleges in the state especially throughout the pandemic. Students often wonder how to prioritize their education when they also have to worry about where they can sleep at night. With issues like these it begs the question: “What are colleges doing to help these students?”
University of California, Santa Barbara was dealing with a high capacity of students on a waitlist for dorm requests during the pandemic. Its current solution is to place these students into hotels until they can be found proper housing for the 2021-2022 school year. This led to hundreds of students on the waitlist and a university searching for a solution, until a certain investor came with a proposition.
Charles Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and right hand man to Warren Bufett had consulted with architects and university leaders to design a warehouse style, 11-story, 4,500 bedroom dorm building. The main concern is the fact that 94% of these rooms will not have windows. With no access to natural sunlight and fresh air in light of the pandemic that still hasn't passed, many question if this building could truly be the best decision.
A similar building exists at the University of Michigan, instead of windows there’s a knob that would control the artificial light in the room, inspired by the same machinery from Disney cruise ships. L.A. architect Dennis McMadden who was on the UC Santa Barbara design Review Committee for 15 years resigned in protest to this building being built recently and it’s irregard to moral health for these students.
A couple miles over is Long Beach Community College, where many students who can't afford housing live in their cars. LBCC created the Safe Parking Program, which allows students to have a safe parking place for their cars, access to showers, bathrooms and wireless free Wi-Fi. This way the students wouldn't have the police called on them and their education be interrupted. With an estimated 10% of the LBCC students that are homeless, the college hopes the Safe Parking Program will help students stay safe despite circumstances.
In order to qualify, the student must be currently enrolled and no partner/spouse, service animals are accepted. District Superintendent President Mike Munoz has said “... LBCC has close to 70 students that live in their cars.” The community college also has the Viking Vault, a food pantry and a place where students can get help finding housing options.
With housing being a rising issue in California, we hope to find more universities and colleges establishing solutions that help students keep their focus on their education.