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ASUCI Addresses the Ongoing Housing Crisis

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In response to the ongoing student housing crisis, ASUCI emailed a statement to all undergraduate students urging UCI Administration to alleviate the housing shortage on May 11. 

This response followed an update from the American Campus Communities (ACC) on May 8 that outlined current plans for addressing the situation among their remaining applicants. 

ACC’s email to those on the waitlist stated that ACC paused sending out housing offers until housing for transfer and graduate students had been completed. They also clarified that most students on the waitlist do not have a lease offer and suggested searching for alternative housing options.   

The New University interviewed Connie Malone, the senior director for UCI’s Housing Administration Services, and found that many students remain on the waitlist. 

“Currently there are 446 continuing students on our housing waitlist for 2023-24, and I believe ACC has over 3,000 active applications,” Malone said. 

As the housing waitlist for the 2023-24 school year continues to accumulate, many students are unsure of where they will live, citing both the lack of transparency from Student Housing as well as inflated rent prices for off-campus housing options. 

“Applying for housing is [already] a very stressful process and being put on a waitlist with no transparency into what that waitlist looks like, is an even more stressful process — one that students should not have to go through when pursuing an education,” said Briana Solis, a third-year political science student.

ASUCI’s initial statement recognized different issues students have faced, such as inflated rent prices in nearby housing communities. 

The lack of on-campus housing has forced many students to sign leases with Irvine Company Apartments, the closest off-campus apartment complex to UCI besides ACC. Some students have reported difficulties finding a guarantor due to the high prices. A guarantor, or cosigner, is someone legally responsible for paying the rent if the tenant, or tenants, are unable to do so. Students would most likey need one when leasing as most do not have a great credit score or income history. However, this potentially poses high risks for the guarantor and is thus hard for students to secure a guarantor. 

Second-year philosophy student Maya Jagdev spoke about her experience with signing a lease with the Irvine Company. 

“Last school year when I applied for the ACC housing, the site crashed on me … [I] was not able to receive an offer. I had no idea where I was going to live for the entire summer until I finally gave in and signed a lease with the Irvine Company. The rent, especially being an out-of-state student, is very high. I [reapplied] this upcoming year for ACC and still have not received an offer either,” Jagdev said.

ASUCI’s letter claimed that UCI only guarantees housing for transfer, Campuswide Honors, and, as of recently, first-year students. Samuel Garibay, a second-year political science major, weighed in on this guarantee.

“UCI Student Housing guaranteed housing to [first-year students] as well, narrowing down the housing options even more for those who weren’t able to get housing last year,” Garibay said.

The New University reached out to Diruba Asici, the principal author of the letter, the Senate President Pro-Tempore and a fourth-year history major, for further comment on the matter. 

“It is clear that the issue will only continue to accumulate with Governor Newsom’s financial support deal to the UCs, which requires an increase of 8,000 California resident admissions into the UC system, meaning more incoming transfer and freshman, or a larger pool of students who get guaranteed housing will push out housing options for sophomores, juniors, and seniors,” Asici stated. 

Asici also recognized that this issue involves more than just UCI.

“There are bills on the floor that would possibly grant greater access to housing such as AB1630, which was lobbied by ASUCI in the UCSA Student Lobby Conference,” Asici said. “There is also currently a process of looking into guarantor options by [ASUCI’s External Vice President branch] as well as legislation by the Senate, and the Housing Commissioner hosting an information session later this quarter in regard to housing accommodations.” 

Assembly Bill 1630 would enact The Student Housing Crisis Act of 2023. It proposes granting ministerial approval and an expanded density or height bonus to off-campus student housing within 1,000 feet of a public university, on the condition that they meet particular development standards.

The housing crisis is a complex issue, Asici said, adding that ASUCI is trying to tackle it one step at a time.

“Due to the large-scale issue that housing possesses within not just UCI but California overall, our biggest hurdles have been the Irvine Company and the lack of land,” Asici said.

Noor Abuaita is a Campus News Intern for the spring 2023 quarter. She can be reached at nabuaita@uci.edu.