District’s ambitious student housing plans hope to avoid budget setback

District working to submit its third plan by July 3 deadline


Graham Breitbarth

Mock up of a building where the District has proposed student housing be built

Dorm rooms on Skyline College’s campus could soon become a reality if budget delays don’t interfere.

When Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the state’s 2021-22 budget, it included community college housing funding made possible by SB 169. This bill allocates money for California’s community colleges to apply for the state’s Affordable Student Housing Grant Program.

The need for housing on these two-year campuses is made evident by the fact that 20% of students at these colleges have reported experiencing homelessness, according to a report by the State’s budget subcommittee.

Although student housing is more commonly associated with four-year universities, 11 Californian community colleges currently have housing. However, none of these campuses are in the Bay Area, which has some of the highest rent costs in the nation.

San Mateo County ranks as the fourth most expensive county to rent in, with the top three being their neighboring counties.

The District has applied twice, with a third application on the way for Skyline College. The second application for a site at College of San Mateo is ranked fifth out of 21 applications, giving hope that if the upcoming state budget continues to allocate money for this grant, it will be granted.

“This is an excellent ranking with a high probability of receiving approval for funding subject to the availability of funding at the State level,” said Richard Storti, executive vice chancellor of administrative services.

“At this point, the preliminary plans include single and multiple student-occupied rooms to house approximately 300 students. This is a very exciting opportunity that will be transformational for many students by providing affordable housing. Student housing also increases student life,” added Storti.

“Skyline is in a pretty good area in of itself so I think it’d be a pretty interesting place to have dorms or housing over here,” said Skyline student Michael Sabando.

However, whether the budget will delay this funding was recently questioned when Gov. Newsom unveiled his proposal.

The District was awarded $200,000 to develop the plans for their application, and at recent board meetings, the designs and other information were unveiled.

“Our district is not only ready to break ground, but we have experience with two employee housing complexes, and there are several community colleges that already have student housing that we can learn from the experience of managing student housing,” Student trustee Lesly Ta said at a recent budget meeting.

The District’s early plans for possible sites to build student housing (Joshua D Picazo)

“District housing will be available to students from all campuses, regardless of the school they attend,” said Michele Rudovsky, the District’s Chief Facilities and Operations Officer.