cabrillo college
Students file toward class at Cabrillo College in Aptos in 2017. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Plans to build 624 units of affordable student housing on Cabrillo College’s Aptos campus got the green light Monday when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill to fund the project.

The dual Senate and Assembly bills, both numbered 142, will provide $111 million for the project, which will be located in the lower portion of the campus near the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s substation on Cabrillo Drive.

Groundbreaking is expected as early as November 2024, with completion estimated in Fall 2026. Once ready, it will house Cabrillo students and those from UC Santa Cruz.

The multi-story building will include a daycare facility for residents, and 60% of beds will be for Cabrillo students, with 40% of beds being for UCSC students. 

To pay for the project, UCSC will issue bonds and the state of California will pay them. Neither Cabrillo College nor taxpayers will be responsible for the costs.

UCSC will contribute an additional $70 million to the construction costs, bringing the total project cost to $181 million.

“We’re very grateful that the Legislature found a way to fix this with the governor,” Cabrillo College President Matt Wetstein said. “It’s a great political victory, I think, for our students and for the state to address housing in this way.”

Once complete, the units will go to students who earn 30% of 50% of the median household income, Wetstein said. 

In today’s dollars, that would translate to roughly $900 per month, Wetstein said, calling the new law a “game-changer.”

“With this infusion of revenue bond funds from the University of California, we’ll be able to house our most needy students, accelerate their completion, and secure transfer opportunities for them at a world-class university,” he said. 

To qualify, students must be taking 12 units, be making progress toward a degree and be earning a C average or better.

Wetstein pointed to a recent statewide needs survey of 65,000 community college students, which shows that roughly 20% are facing homelessness at any time.

“The need is already there,” he said. “Our students in this community right now are needing housing, and this is a way we can put a small dent in it.”

The project was selected in the 2023-24 round of the Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program, a 2021 state law that provides money for community college housing. 

It is one of three joint student housing projects between the UC and the state Community College systems, and the first such partnership between these segments in the state’s history.

This includes Riverside City College and UC Riverside, and Merced College and UC Merced. 

UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Cynthia Larive praised Sen. John Laird, who advocated for the bill as chair of the higher education budget subcommittee.

“We deeply appreciate the support of Senator Laird and other California lawmakers in helping us increase educational access by building more student housing,” she said.

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.


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