California Competes Advocates for Student Housing Investments in Final Budget

by Su Jin Gatlin Jez

Executive Director


Topics: Race and Ethnicity, State Coordination, Ed Equity, Adults, COVID-19, Workforce, Student Parents, Student Housing


June 17, 2022

The Honorable Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th St., Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: Increased Funding for the Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program

Dear Governor Newsom,

California Competes: Higher Education for a Strong Economy is writing to urge you to support increased funding for the Student Housing Grant Program in the 2022-23 budget. The Legislature has recently passed a budget bill (AB 154/SB 154), which includes an additional $2 billion over three years for the Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program (Chapter 262 of 2021). This additional investment in student housing will help reduce housing insecurity and promote equitable access to higher education. I urge you to include this funding in the final budget.

Increasing access and success in higher education is a priority for the state and will help ensure that California has the educated workforce it needs for the future. Students who experience housing insecurity are more likely to drop out of college without a degree, have lower grades and have higher incidence of mental health and food insecurity.1 Students from underrepresented populations make up the largest share of homeless students. Demand for affordable housing in higher education outpaces the supply: over 17,000 students are on waitlists at CSU and over 12,000 are on wait-lists at the UC.2 Last year’s investments in student housing are a wise down payment but are not sufficient. In the initial year of the project, 113 applications were submitted with a total funding request of $3.3 billion ($1.3 billion more than the total funding allotted for the program).3

Using one time funds to support housing is also a prudent investment; the National Association of State Budget Officers notes that using one time funds for infrastructure investments is a fiscally- sound strategy because it contributes to economic growth without placing the state in a condition of budget imbalance in the future.4 The investment in housing combines two equity priorities for the state, reducing homelessness and housing insecurity and increasing educational attainment. Reducing student housing insecurity can be a catalyst for helping achieve the ambitious 70 percent higher education attainment goal you have identified.

The funds are available this year, demand is high for student housing, and the systems are willing and able to partner with the state on this effort. Now is the time for the state to double-down on this historic program and invest more funds. I appreciate your consideration and ask that you include the additional funding for the Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program in the 2022-23 budget.

Sincerely,

Su Jin Gatlin Jez, PhD
Executive Director
California Competes

CC:
Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, Speaker of the Assembly, California State Assembly
Senator Toni Atkins, Senate President pro Tempore, California Senate
Ben Chida, Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary, Office of Governor Newsom
Nichole Muñoz-Murillo, Deputy Legislative Secretary, Office of Governor Newsom
Chris Ferguson, Program Budget Manager, Education Systems, California Department of Finance
Christian Griffith, Chief Consultant, Assembly Budget Committee
Chris Francis, Principal Consultant, Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committe


1Soika, Brian, “The Impact of College Student Homelessness,” USC Rossier Education, December 3, 2021, https://rossier.usc.edu/the-impacts-of-college-student-homelessness/

2Moody, Josh, “The California Student Housing Crunch,” Inside Higher Ed, March 29, 2022, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/03/29/housing-demand-far-exceeds-supply-california-colleges

3California Legislative Analyst’s Office, April 8, 2022, The 2022-23 Budget: Student Housing, https://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/4589

4The National Association of State Budget Officers, “State Budgeting and Lessons Learned from the Economic Downturn,” Summer 2013, https://www.nasbo.org/reports-...