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UC San Diego students, parents worry about housing 'debacle'

UC-San Diego students, parents worry about housing 'debacle'
Posted at 3:33 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 19:46:49-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Parents of UC San Diego students are sounding off on what they call an unfolding housing crisis.

Noilani Webber spent most of her freshman year at UCSD attending virtual classes from her home in Santa Cruz. In early July, she learned is on a waitlist for housing this fall.

Her mother, Nikki, says the news was beyond upsetting for her daughter, who is now facing a second year off-campus.

"Just despair. ‘What am I going to do? How am I going to do this?’ … The thought of moving down there, without that sense of community, the university experience … is difficult,” said Nikki Webber.

Noilani is hardly alone. The school says the waitlist for housing is now nearly 3,200.

This comes as the school just announced a record 41,000 students accepted for the fall. While the number of students is climbing, the housing is going the other direction.

Amid COVID concerns, room density has been reduced. The number of on-campus beds has been reduced by several thousand to just over 17,500, all of which are spoken for.

Noalini is now forced to look for off-campus housing, without much luck.

“It's a debacle. Just abysmal. We're both online daily, and calling the complexes … Everything is booked,” said Nikki Webber.

With a record number of accepted students, it's a similar story for Diane Birmingham, whose son, Jared, is transferring in as a junior. He and two friends have been trying to find a place to rent since June.

“As soon as you see it listed, and emailing or calling for any application, they would find out the units are already gone,” said Birmingham. “He’s now saying this is maybe not the place to go. The classes will be in person. Virtual is not an option. If he can’t find housing, he can’t go.”

As for the Webbers, they found one apartment but must start their lease months before school starts, which will force Nikki to sell a big chunk of her 401k to make it a reality.

Webber and Birmingham are among the parents and students calling on the school to relax COVID restrictions and increase density, including tripling up students in rooms.

A spokesperson from UC San Diego released this statement:

"It has been a challenging year for everyone as we have navigated our way through the pandemic and an unprecedented level of uncertainty.

The public health situation often changed quickly, and the university needed to remain flexible while still following all federal, state, and county COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations. In our communications, we emphasized that the university’s plans may change as the pandemic evolves and as the state’s reopening plans are implemented and assessed.

Even as recently as this spring, the university was not certain that our campus would be able to offer doubles in the fall. Fortunately, we are able to do so, safely.

We understand the anxiety this uncertainty creates. In all decisions, the health and safety of students is paramount.

Regarding triple-occupancy housing options, the university has increased undergraduate housing capacity by more than 5,000 beds since the fall of 2010. While UC San Diego is committed to housing more students on campus, the university does not want to compromise the student experience. The social distancing required by the pandemic response has only reaffirmed our priority to reduce density in on-campus housing."