Committed to advancing student success, UC Santa Cruz leaders are confronting the ongoing housing crisis by providing immediate support programs for students while building new residential buildings to significantly increase the number of students who can live on campus.
In the decade ahead, UC Santa Cruz plans to move forward on a bold and ambitious path that will continue to increase the amount of housing for current and future students. There are two major projects already approved—one under construction and the other overcoming legal challenges in the courts—that will allow more current students to live on campus. UC Santa Cruz is also in the midst of creating a 10-year housing plan with a project ladder that at all times has projects in the planning, proposal or construction stage. This will allow UCSC to move on to another project if one is delayed and continuously deliver beds to meet its goals.
These bold future plans will build on the campus’s longstanding commitment to providing an on-campus residential experience for students. The campus currently provides housing for more than half of its undergraduates. While this is one of the highest percentages in the UC system, leaders say it is not high enough. Campus efforts to build more on-campus housing continue in earnest.
“Santa Cruz faces urgent housing challenges, and on-campus student housing is a critical need for our campus. We are compelled to seize every opportunity to increase the amount of student housing we offer.”
— Cynthia Larive, UC Santa Cruz Chancellor
Building on a founding commitment to housing
UC Santa Cruz was founded with the goal of providing a residential college experience for students through 10 colleges. Over the past two decades, UC Santa Cruz has increased its student housing capacity by 3,300 beds through structural modifications, such as adding floors, major building redesigns and by increasing the density in residence halls. When construction finishes on a new residential building next academic year, the campus will have increased its housing capacity by 53 percent since the 2003–04 academic year.
Kresge renewal to add hundreds more beds
UC Santa Cruz is in the midst of a renewal project at Kresge College, which includes additional housing and academic space. The first phase will be completed next academic year with 400 new beds in a residential building that’s under construction. Phase 2 of the Kresge project is anticipated to add hundreds more new beds and open in fall 2025.
The UC Board of Regents approved both the Kresge College renewal and the Student Housing West project during its March 2019 meeting. While construction moved ahead at Kresge, Student Housing West has faced legal challenges that have gone against the needs and interests of students—building much-needed housing.
Student Housing West to create about 3,000 new beds
Student Housing West will enable UC Santa Cruz to offer much more housing to its current graduate students and upper-division undergraduates by building new housing units with space for around 3,000 students. The project, spread across two sites, will also allow the campus to expand child-care services to serve the children of faculty, staff, and students.
Student Housing West has been delayed by lawsuits, and the housing crisis has only grown more severe over the past four years. Had construction started as planned, Student Housing West would have been well underway to providing more much-needed housing.
The courts have continued to rule in favor of the university and in some instances opponents have agreed to dismiss their case. There is no question that the project is needed, and that the university is not only lawfully permitted to build housing on the sites identified in the project but has done so with sound analysis of the environmental impacts.
A long-term focus on housing
In fall 2021, the UC Board of Regents unanimously approved UCSC’s 2021 Long Range Development, which is a blueprint for future physical development on campus, painting in broad strokes how the main campus and Westside Research Park might develop over the next two decades. The plan identifies where students, staff and faculty could be housed, where new spaces for learning and research could be created, and what land should be off-limits to construction.
The plan respects the original vision for UC Santa Cruz and was shaped by substantial feedback from community partners. Highlights of the plan include:
- Utilizing a compact footprint for learning, research and housing spaces.
- Proposing sites for up to four new residential colleges, advancing our distinctive residential college-system structure.
- Expands housing for 100 percent of new full-time student enrollment above 19,500. UCSC is currently at about 18,500 students.
- Providing housing for up to 25 percent of new employees, based on demand.
Like for many organizations in Santa Cruz County, Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer said the lack of housing availability and its cost makes it difficult to recruit and retain employees and that the campus must mitigate its impacts in order to achieve its long-term goals.
With insights and recommendations from an Employee Housing Advisory Workgroup, the campus is developing a plan that will help to provide more housing and housing support for faculty and staff including a staged plan to regularly develop, plan, design and build more employee housing.
UC Santa Cruz anticipates holding its enrollment steady as possible until more housing comes online. Housing is a critical component of student success, and UC Santa Cruz remains focused on ensuring students are poised to have a meaningful college experience that will position them for long-term personal and professional success.