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Amid Housing Shortage, Bay Area Universities To Build Thousands Of Units

The Bay Area’s housing shortage is leaving few options not only for longtime residents, but also for students.

Rendering of California College of the Arts' student housing under construction at 75 Arkansas St.

More than 80,000 students attend the region’s 30 institutions, but there are about 9,000 beds, creating a significant lack of supply, according to the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition. Many schools guarantee housing for freshmen, while offering lotteries to other students.

Students not offered housing through their institutions are left to the general housing market, where rents average about $3,300, and often live with several roommates to keep housing costs down. A recent study found about 70% of students have worked while in school over the past 25 years. Students working full time at minimum wage typically earn about $15K annually. A salary of six figures is often needed to afford a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Housing Action Coalition began addressing the shortage of student housing in 2010 with several local institutions. In 2011, a definition for student housing was introduced into San Francisco's planning code and a student housing ordinance was passed. The Panoramic, which houses students from California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, was the first project developed following this new legislation.

Throughout San Francisco, roughly 800 units are under construction with more than 2,000 planned. In Potrero and Dogpatch, CCA and University of California San Francisco are working on several plans to build more housing close to their campuses. Current projects will yield 1,500 more units, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

CCA broke ground on its newest project on Arkansas Street and has plans to build a total of 1,000 beds by 2025. The project at 75 Arkansas St. is being managed by Equity Community Builders with Oliver & Co. as contractor. CCA trustee Simon Blattner is developing the project, designed by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects. The new housing will provide 220 beds.

"Promising students come to the college from California, across the U.S. and from 54 countries," CCA president Stephen Beal said. "Providing them affordable housing is essential to our future plans in San Francisco."

UCSF, which is facing a 1,400-unit shortage, is planning to build two housing developments of about 595 units near its Mission Bay campus.

Partial rendering of a proposed graduate housing project at Stanford University

San Francisco State University is working on a mixed-use Campus Master Plan for development through 2020. Plans include the conversion of about 1,200 units of housing (nearly 3,000 beds) for faculty, staff and students. UC Hastings has several campus development projects planned, including a graduate student housing project expected to begin construction in 2021. The project at 198 McAllister is a partnership between UC Hastings and UCSF and will create 700 to 850 apartments with ground-floor amenities.

Stanford received approval and began initial preparation work in January for four residencies at Escondido Village. The site will create 2,431 beds for graduate students. Completion is expected in 2020 or 2021.

San Jose State University completed its 10-story Campus Village 2 in 2016, creating 850 beds. Barry Swenson Builder also is working on a 260-unit residential tower in downtown San Jose that will target SJSU students. The design is expected to feature four-bedroom units and upward of 1,000 beds.

Golden Gate University, San Francisco Art Institute and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music also are working on various student housing projects.

Find out more about future student housing projects at Bisnow's upcoming NorCal Student Housing & University Development event June 21.