A preliminary assessment of the housing challenges faced by students and employees of City College of San Francisco points to a need for more than 690 student beds and at least 125 housing units for faculty and staff.
More than 60 percent of City College of San Francisco’s students reported challenges in securing housing in a survey conducted last fall, and 59 percent said that these challenges impacted their academic careers.
Some 129 students, or 5 percent of the students who participated in the survey, reported that they had not secured permanent housing.
The survey, which was presented to the City College Board of Trustees last week, was conducted to gauge the housing needs among its student body and employees ahead of the planned redevelopment of the Balboa Reservoir. The 17-acre site adjacent to City College’s Ocean Avenue campus that currently serves as a parking lot is expected to become the site of some 1,100 homes.
While many of those homes are planned for market-rate tenants, the development team — which includes the BRIDGE Housing, AvalonBay Communities and the Mission Housing Development Corporation — has proposed 550 homes to be built for low- and moderate-income tenants, with some set aside for the college community. The project is expected to break ground in mid-2022.
The housing needs survey pointed to a current need for 693 student beds, and an additional 125 housing units for City College faculty and staff, although City College leaders say the actual need is likely much higher.
The survey was only conducted in English and did not capture the college’s large community of English learners, and only 12 percent of students enrolled at City College responded to the survey, or about 3,500 students.
The survey also included responses on the housing needs of 25 percent of the college’s staff, or 727 respondents, and 21 percent of its faculty members, or 1,502 respondents.
The housing units proposed for college employees are based on the need reported among those currently making between 80 and 120 percent of The City’s Area Median Income.
However several City College trustees said Thursday that this number is likely to change in the near future, and called for a higher number of units available to faculty and staff serving a broader salary range.
“There is supposed to be a bumper crop of millionaires buying up properties in San Francisco. This survey is not really taking that into account, because it doesn’t exist yet,” said Board member Brigitte Davila, citing reports that a new influx of wealth is expected in San Francisco as a string of start-ups prepare to go public.
“We only know its supposed to happen in the next six to 12 months. What do we do then? Housing will become even more expensive in relation to salaries,” said Davila.
Matt Bohannon, vice president of Brailsford & Dunlavey, the development consulting firm hired by the college to conduct the survey, said that as faculty and staff retire, the survey assumes “replacement hires of 5 percent of the existing population and growth in hiring as the college is looking to expand certain programs” that would increase the need for housing among college employees to between 210 and 245 beds in the next four years.
“I’m thinking the demand will just go up overall. We are going to have to offer more housing because it will be so unaffordable,” said Board member Shanell Williams.
It is also unclear how long students and college employees would be allowed to live in the proposed housing units.
“We wouldn’t want the college to be in a situation where you open [the housing] up, fill all those beds right away, and then are not able to use them for future hires down the road,” said Bohannon .
Board President Alex Randolph said that he is “particularly concerned” about the 5 percent of student survey respondents who “are currently couch surfing or living in their cars.”
According to the survey, 26 percent of all student respondents and 23 percent of the housing insecure respondents reported that they had no source of income.
Of the 129 students who reported not having a permanent living situation last fall, 93 said that they also faced food insecurity.
“It’s one thing to provide housing, but if someone has no income they can’t get into housing,” said Randolph. “That group of students needs a whole different type of support system.”
Randolph said that the housing needs survey provides “a helpful baseline of the housing needs we have.” City College is currently in the midst of conducting a more rigorous survey of it’s homeless student population, the results of which are expected to be published this year, said Randolph.
“Based on these different reports we can put together a really succinct housing policy and take a look at our properties that we own around The City, and determine what make scenes in terms of offering different housing on our own properties and not just relying on the agreement we have with the Balboa Reservoir developers,” he said.