University of California President Janet Napolitano on Jan. 20, 2016, announced a housing initiative aimed at supporting current students and future enrollment growth across the UC system.

Through the initiative, UC expects to expand the pool of student housing over the next four years, and to accelerate the timetable for completing student housing developments that are already in the planning phase.

Current estimates project that UC could add nearly 14,000 new affordable student housing beds to the campuses’ stock by fall 2020, and one of the initiative’s central tasks will be accelerating this timeline. This includes the creation of new beds for undergraduates in residence halls and the addition of more graduate student housing and other apartments that are generally open to all students.

The overarching goals of the effort are twofold: First, to ensure that each of UC's campuses has sufficient housing for its growing student populace; and second, to keep housing as affordable as possible for UC students.


Communities around California for years have faced the challenge of ensuring sufficient affordable housing for residents. Housing availability is in particularly short supply in some of the communities that are home to UC campuses.

The housing initiative addresses those circumstances by harnessing the expertise and resources of the UC system to accelerate the creation of affordable student housing at every UC campus.

Along with facilitating projects that are already in planning and development, the initiative aims to spur new housing construction, and potentially, the acquisition of existing housing stock.

Progress to date

From February through May 2016, an internal developer team, led by CFO Brostrom and senior leaders from the offices of the CFO and Chief Investment Officer (CIO), visited all 10 campuses to better understand their specific housing goals. They assessed existing barriers to development, such as debt capacity, site and/or community issues. The goals of the internal developer team were to:

  • Facilitate the accelerated development of those student housing projects that are already in production or proposed;
  • Assess campus-specific issues affecting additional development and work with campuses to overcome them;
  • Identify and develop new funding options, such as third-party financing, that could help ensure the affordability of new projects; and
  • Ensure that internal policies and processes align with housing initiative goals.

During the campus visits, UC senior leaders also engaged undergraduate and graduate student leaders to obtain their input and advice on housing issues.

From May 2016 to July 2017, most campuses presented their detailed housing plans to the Board of Regents to provide critical information about the unique campus environment and local factors impacting housing availability and affordability for students. These presentations generally included the number of students housing, rental rates as compared to market rate housing, off-campus housing vacancy rates, housing goals, upcoming projects, delivery models being considered, and 10-year financial plans and modeling.

Since the announcement of the Student Housing Initiative in January 2016, approximately 3,600 beds have come online since and we are on track for meeting the 14,000 affordable bed goal by fall 2020.

Recognizing that a number of student housing projects across the system would leverage a Public-Private Partnership (P3) delivery model, the Office of the President led an effort to identify housing developers through a Request for Information (RFI) process. The primary purpose of the RFI was to identify qualified developers that would be eligible to respond to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for campus-specific student housing projects. The strategic goals behind this systemwide approach were to 1) eliminate some of the redundancy of a campus-by campus solicitation process and thereby expedite the delivery of housing and 2) heighten the level of competition through the exclusive use of the identified P3 developers to achieve higher value projects for the University which would maximize affordability to the students.

On November 15, 2016, the RFI was released to over 3,000 student and multi-family housing developers and in February 2017, eight developers were selected to subsequently bid on future P3 student housing project RFPs across the UC system. The Office of the President worked with the Santa Cruz, Riverside, and Davis campuses on the development of project specific RFPs which were released to the eight developers in Spring/Summer 2017. It’s anticipated that developer selection for the three campuses will occur in Fall 2017.

In addition, at their July 2017 meeting, the UC Board of Regents approved providing a one-time $27 million allocation to support campus efforts to address housing needs for students, faculty, and staff. As a result, $3 million will be directed to each of the following campuses: Berkley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. The funding is intended to provide assistance for existing or new housing programs, studies in support of advancing new housing projects, and/or capital improvements. Given the unique housing challenges facing each individual campus, they will have the flexibility to utilize the funding based on specific needs.