Housing Horrors

The increased housing crisis leaves UC students with little to no options for comfortable living.


UC Berkeley has long struggled with the housing crisis and has attempted fixing it by building more housing spaces. (Photo by Flickr)

As high-school seniors across America are in the midst of the college application process, the fears of getting bad roommates, struggling to make friends, or not being able to manage rigorous academics all begin to arise.

However, there is a growing crisis that students applying to schools in California now have to face: the possibility of having nowhere to comfortably live. 

Around 9,400 students were denied housing at UC schools this past fall due to housing shortages. This crisis is not just affecting incoming freshmen and transfer students; every student in the UC system has the high risk of never having a place to live- even seniors entering their final year. Since COVID-19, there has been an increase of applications for schools that don’t have enough dorm rooms available for as many students they are accepting. 

The limited amount of available apartments and shared houses near the campuses are almost all out of the price range for the majority of students. Some have started working multiple jobs while going to school, resulting in major anxiety and stress that has negatively affected their academic performance. Others have taken out thousands of dollars in loans, creating more financial issues themselves. While student loans are sometimes given for housing, it clearly has not been sufficient enough for many students. The LA Times reports that many students have resorted to living in vehicles, crammed and alone, with little space for essentials. Unfortunately, some have even been forced to transfer schools, as their only affordable living option became homelessness. 

UC and CSU schools are always popular options for seniors at Notre Dame. However, the majority of students are mostly unaware of this major crisis. This type of problem could potentially cause some students to rethink their applications and commitment decisions. The chances of not  having somewhere to live comfortably and affordably is a large risk that these students take if they decide to enroll.

Mrs. Lewis, one of the senior college counselors at Notre Dame expressed her thoughts. “When students tell us they’re thinking about a certain school in a particular city, we have to be the ones to be like ‘Hey, have you looked into the housing there?’ It’s something that is mostly not on the radar for seniors. But it’s something to bring attention to and to really be considered.”  She says that even after bringing these issues to her students’ attention, it’s ultimately still their decision to apply— and many still do, presumably hoping they’ll somehow figure it out when the time comes. 

She explains that the housing shortage is often caused by an influx of applications going out to schools since COVID-19, resulting in a higher number of students being accepted. The schools often accept more students, hoping that only a certain percentage of those accepted will actually enroll, as they don’t have the housing space for everyone. However, when more students enroll than the school expects, they are then faced with students having no place to live. Because of this, Mrs. Lewis emphasizes that seniors should be applying to schools with good reason and intent, rather than simply applying just because they can. 

In efforts of creating some form of resolution to the problem, schools have been adding dozens of beds to the dorms and squeezing three students into small rooms. However, even this has not been sufficient enough for the amount of students in need of living space. Some schools, such as UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Cruz have turned to offering local hotel rooms for students.

State lawmakers have responded to the crisis by creating a $1.4 billion budget to build more housing for 26 campuses. While this is helpful for the future, it is not an immediate solution, which means thousands of students still won’t have housing for the next year or two. 

One attempted solution that UC Berkeley has used is simply accepting less students to their school. While this helps solve the problem for students enrolled, it makes it way more difficult for seniors in high school to be able to attend the schools they’ve been working so hard to get into for four years. 

Savana Hudson ‘23 is currently working on her applications for a few UC schools, including Berkeley. She said, “It was already difficult in the first place to get into these schools, and now with limited housing, they have to accept less students, which angers me and scares me a lot.” 

This shortage can possibly be reduced by students applying to fewer schools by choosing the schools they know they really want to attend. However, even this won’t be enough to solve the entire issue at the rate that it is currently going at. As the schools try their best to accommodate students, we can only hope they can soon find a more convenient and permanent solution to this dangerously fast growing problem.