Home Audio Transcription Cabrillo College plans to build affordable student housing

Cabrillo College plans to build affordable student housing

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Many students across the Central Coast are experiencing housing insecurity and even homelessness. To help mitigate the issue, Cabrillo Community College plans to build student housing on their Aptos campus for about 300 students who are financially insecure. The school envisions a three-story building on the school’s soccer field, right next to Twin Lakes Church.The church said they’re familiar with the Aptos student housing crisis, having helped many Cabrillo students with food insecurity and temporary housing. The church previously partnered with Cabrillo College for the latter.“I think we have to find a way to help the young students who are over there …” Pastor Valerie Webb said. “We have in the past had college students who we know are living in their cars. They come here because they need food, because they’re food insecure…Often people in our church will try to make arrangements with them that they can live in a room in their home for a short period of time to try to help them get on their feet and find better solutions that are more long-term.”Students whose family contributes the least to their education would be prioritized for on-campus housing. The president of Cabrillo College, Matt Wetstein, imagines a mix of traditional dorms and apartment-style suites with amenities that are often part of the traditional college experience such as dining halls, child care and late-night study spaces. It would cost students about $924 per month, which is below the going rent in Aptos. According to Apartments.com, the average rent in Santa Cruz County hovers below $3,000.To qualify for Cabrillo College’s housing, students must be enrolled as full-time, or 12-semester units, and maintain a passing grade point average. The intention is to help students focus on their studies and complete their coursework as fast as possible. “You’re actually going to help accelerate completion for students because they’ll have housing locked down. It’ll be affordable, they’ll be more engaged with the campus community and they’re going to complete within two years, two and a half, three years at the most,” Wetstein said. As of 2021, there are 12 community colleges with a student housing option. The most recent was built in the fall of 2020 at Orange Coast College. Moreover, Santa Rosa College also broke ground for its housing project in October 2021. The push to build student housing for two-year colleges is part of a growing acknowledgment that many community college students do not have financial support from their parents. “What people need to understand is that the average age of a community college student in California right now is 26. A third of them, report that they have kids. And so, this traditional notion of a college student being between ages 18 and 24…Yeah, they’re there. There are students who are coming right out of high school, but that’s not the average,” Wetstein said. “The average is the student who’s coming back, who might have taken a couple of years off or they’re coming back after, you know, working a little bit out in the sector and now they’re coming back in their thirties and wanting to retrain and upskill…And for a lot of people, the understanding of the traditional college student is just a misplaced notion of who our students are. They’re disproportionately poor. They are older than people realize. They do have kids and they are struggling financially, and so it’s hard for them to make ends meet. They tend to be working part-time, often two part-time jobs, and they’re trying to do all of that along with their studies.”The price tag for this housing project is $53,000, and Wetstein said the college has yet to secure funding. Last year, Cabrillo College applied for and denied money from Senate Bill 169, which allocated $2 billion over a three-year period for low-cost student housing. One billion dollars of the $2 billion is specifically for community colleges, who are in competition with one another for a portion of that money. Ultimately, the California State Legislature decides which projects receive funding. Cabrillo College will apply again, but this time with the preliminary work completed. “We’re in a space right now where we want to do more significant planning, get our project proposal in better shape so that we can qualify for construction dollars in the next series of funding,” Wetstein said. Cabrillo College has set a goal to break ground in 2023 but said a 2024 date is more likely.

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Many students across the Central Coast are experiencing housing insecurity and even homelessness. To help mitigate the issue, Cabrillo Community College plans to build student housing on their Aptos campus for about 300 students who are financially insecure.

The school envisions a three-story building on the school’s soccer field, right next to Twin Lakes Church.

The church said they’re familiar with the Aptos student housing crisis, having helped many Cabrillo students with food insecurity and temporary housing. The church previously partnered with Cabrillo College for the latter.

“I think we have to find a way to help the young students who are over there [Cabrillo College]…” Pastor Valerie Webb said. “We have in the past had college students who we know are living in their cars. They come here because they need food, because they’re food insecure…Often people in our church will try to make arrangements with them that they can live in a room in their home for a short period of time to try to help them get on their feet and find better solutions that are more long-term.”

Students whose family contributes the least to their education would be prioritized for on-campus housing.

The president of Cabrillo College, Matt Wetstein, imagines a mix of traditional dorms and apartment-style suites with amenities that are often part of the traditional college experience such as dining halls, child care and late-night study spaces.

It would cost students about $924 per month, which is below the going rent in Aptos.

According to Apartments.com, the average rent in Santa Cruz County hovers below $3,000.

To qualify for Cabrillo College’s housing, students must be enrolled as full-time, or 12-semester units, and maintain a passing grade point average.

The intention is to help students focus on their studies and complete their coursework as fast as possible.

“You’re actually going to help accelerate completion for students because they’ll have housing locked down. It’ll be affordable, they’ll be more engaged with the campus community and they’re going to complete within two years, two and a half, three years at the most,” Wetstein said.

As of 2021, there are 12 community colleges with a student housing option. The most recent was built in the fall of 2020 at Orange Coast College. Moreover, Santa Rosa College also broke ground for its housing project in October 2021.

The push to build student housing for two-year colleges is part of a growing acknowledgment that many community college students do not have financial support from their parents.

What people need to understand is that the average age of a community college student in California right now is 26. A third of them, report that they have kids. And so, this traditional notion of a college student being between ages 18 and 24…Yeah, they’re there. There are students who are coming right out of high school, but that’s not the average,” Wetstein said.

“The average is the student who’s coming back, who might have taken a couple of years off or they’re coming back after, you know, working a little bit out in the sector and now they’re coming back in their thirties and wanting to retrain and upskill…And for a lot of people, the understanding of the traditional college student is just a misplaced notion of who our students are. They’re disproportionately poor. They are older than people realize. They do have kids and they are struggling financially, and so it’s hard for them to make ends meet. They tend to be working part-time, often two part-time jobs, and they’re trying to do all of that along with their studies.”

The price tag for this housing project is $53,000, and Wetstein said the college has yet to secure funding.

Last year, Cabrillo College applied for and denied money from Senate Bill 169, which allocated $2 billion over a three-year period for low-cost student housing. One billion dollars of the $2 billion is specifically for community colleges, who are in competition with one another for a portion of that money.

Ultimately, the California State Legislature decides which projects receive funding.

Cabrillo College will apply again, but this time with the preliminary work completed.

“We’re in a space right now where we want to do more significant planning, get our project proposal in better shape so that we can qualify for construction dollars in the next series of funding,” Wetstein said.

Cabrillo College has set a goal to break ground in 2023 but said a 2024 date is more likely.



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