A place to call home

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A California college commits to providing affordable student housing.

In California’s Sonoma County, the 2007 Tubbs fire devastated the community, destroying more than 5,000 structures. More than 1,000 Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) students lost their homes.

This tragedy exacerbated an already difficult situation. The community was dealing with exorbitant housing prices and widespread homelessness. Student housing insecurity grew. Since the fire, the community has had to contend with more crises, including floods, blackouts, more wildfires and evacuations – and now, the coronavirus pandemic.

Student housing insecurity has become a priority for SRJC. A 2018 feasibility study performed by Scion Advisory Services for SRJC showed strong demand for student housing on the Santa Rosa campus. And now student housing is becoming a reality.

To expedite the project and provide necessary funding, the college chose to pursue a public-private-partnership (P3) model with Servitas Collegiate Real Estate Services as the student housing developer partner and National Campus and Community Development Corporation (NCCD) as the tax-exempt borrower. For two years, the project has been carefully vetted and is now in final review by the California Division of the State Architects.

Unfortunately, construction costs escalated due to local fires and the project stalled once the budget was surpassed.

Help came recently in the form of a $1 million grant from Kaiser Permanente.

“We are beyond grateful for this tremendous gift from Kaiser Permanente,” SRJC President/Superintendent Frank Chong said in a release. “This partnership and funding will provide support for housing and education in our community for generations to come.”

The grant allows the project to move forward. Financing is anticipated to occur in October and groundbreaking in December of 2020.

“We are supporting the health of these communities by investing in long-term infrastructure, affordable housing and services that will help them rebuild, recover and move on with their lives,” said Tom Hanenburg, interim president of Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

And, according to J Mullineaux, executive director of the SRJC Foundation the grant “lays the foundation for fundraising to help subsidize rental costs and other essential needs the future residents may encounter.”

Is your college considering student housing? Sound off on LinkedIn.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.