Cabrillo College: Laying the Groundwork for the Next Round of Competitive Housing Grant Funding

The typical student at Cabrillo College is no longer a young adult fresh from high school living with their parents or receiving financial support while they attend classes.

These days, the average age of a community college student is 26, says Cabrillo College President Matthew Wetstein, and at Cabrillo, a third of those students are already parents themselves, an added financial pressure on a population already struggling to make ends meet. Many students can only work part-time, and the average rent per unit in the area is $2,241, with vacancy rates just over 3 percent, according to a student housing demand and feasibility study presented to the board of trustees last fall. 

That combination is a recipe for disaster: 32 percent of Cabrillo students report experiencing housing insecurity, and the college sees the impact in declining enrollment and graduation rates.

That report showed strong interest from students in Cabrillo-sponsored housing, and the college is responding: It’s working to position itself to compete for state funding that would help fund a $50 million on-campus housing project.

While only 12 of the state’s community colleges currently provide on-campus housing, that’s changing thanks to legislation approved last fall that allocated $2 billion over the next three years to student housing creation, with half of those funds going to California community colleges. While just eight community colleges received funding under the first-year round of that new Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program, Cabrillo is now looking toward pursuing second-year funding. MBEP applauds Cabrillo and UCSC for their diligence in pursuing these competitive funds. 

In mid-March, the board of trustees recommended its lower field as a potential site for housing, with a tennis court area as a second choice for a 298-unit student housing development for about $924 per month.

“We want the community to know that we’re a partner not just in education and workforce training, but also in meeting the needs of housing our community,” Bradley Olin, Cabrillo’s assistant superintendent/vice president of finance and administrative services, told Lookout Santa Cruz. “And we’re taking that seriously.”

News courtesy of Lookout Santa Cruz, KSBW.