UC forms systemwide housing task force
Berkeley pursues efforts to remove housing obstacles to faculty recruitment, retention

22 March 2001 | The affordable housing crunch for faculty, staff and students systemwide is the focus of a task force created last week by the UC Board of Regents. The group will seek ways to make housing more affordable and available for students and employees.

“The university must explore a host of creative ideas for building and operating additional housing for all segments of our community,” said Joseph Mullinix, UC senior vice president for business and finance.

The new task force dovetails with a Berkeley-specific initiative to provide additional funding sources for faculty housing as a means to enhance faculty recruitment and retention. That effort — one of several initiatives of the chancellor’s cabinet designed to address pressing campus issues — is close to making final recommendations.

Members of the new systemwide housing task force — to be appointed in the next few weeks — will examine the current process for construction of residence halls and apartments on campus, additional ways that the university might work with third parties to provide housing, and options for offering financial assistance to make the initial purchase of homes, and subsequent monthly payments, more affordable.

“Economic growth factors, real estate market conditions and university enrollment growth have coalesced in a way that challenges our traditional methods of assuring the range of housing options that are necessary to support the university’s academic mission,” said Sue Johnson, chair of the board of regents.

Task force members will include representatives of the board of regents, campuses, the Academic Senate, students, and friends of the university who are familiar with government planning, development and financing.

At Berkeley, efforts to remove the housing barrier in faculty recruitment have been under way since last fall. Vice Provost Jan de Vries, whose office is spearheading this iniative, said the campus is working with the UC Berkeley Foundation and the loans programs office at UC Office of the President in developing new mortgage programs to address the housing financing needs of faculty.

“We are exploring specific proposals for direct participation in new housing developments that would be made available to faculty members,” de Vries said, “and are considering how the campus can best participate in housing construction proposals.”

Harry Hathaway, chair of the UC Berkeley Foundation Board of Trustees, said the Berkeley campus’s efforts should complement the new systemwide task force efforts. Hathaway saaid the campus had planned to make recommendations to the UC system, since housing has become a problem in faculty recruitment at UC campuses across the state.

Regardless of systemwide plans, he said, Berkeley must provide financial support to faculty members in their efforts to secure housing, because the high cost of housing is preventing the campus from recruiting top scholars and researchers.

“We, at Berkeley, have to do it,” said Hathaway. “There’s no question; we can’t wait.”


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