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University addresses student, faculty and staff housing concerns in one of America’s most expensive cities

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University has proactively developed a comprehensive housing solution that will provide short- and long-term plans for student, faculty and staff needs. A cross-sector collaboration between the university, city, county, state officials, and student representatives has been instrumental in making this unique housing solution possible in an area affected greatly by the national housing crisis.

The comprehensive housing solution has six major components: (1) more than $3 million in grants from the California State University Chancellor’s Office; (2) a housing grant program for SJSU’s students who have the least financial resources; (3) development and planning of the Campus Village 3 residential housing facility; (4) exploratory discussion of a comprehensive multi-sector residential community concept off-campus; (5) concrete measures to address student housing insecurity issues developed collaboratively with student representatives; and (6) plans for the Alfred E. Alquist Building in downtown San Jose.

Addressing Student Housing and Basic Needs Insecurity

The San Jose State University SJSU Cares team developed and submitted several proposals to address students’ basic needs insecurity to California State University (CSU) Chancellor’s Office. As a result, SJSU has been awarded three grants from the Chancellor’s Office that will support the university’s comprehensive housing solution to develop, enhance, and integrate basic needs programs and resources — namely to address the housing insecurity concerns affecting students.

The grants total $2.265 million in funding for the next 18 months and will be dedicated to student housing insecurity and basic needs support at SJSU. The total will be $3.135 million in 2022.

“San Jose State University is committed to working with elected officials, community organizations and the student population on resolving the issue of student housing and basic needs insecurity — national epidemics that affect students here,” said President Mary A. Papazian. “Creating student housing programs that provide a learning environment with wrap-around services that support student success are vital. I am grateful to the SJSU Cares team whose commitment to enhancing students’ basic needs resulted in the award of these important grants based on their submitted proposals. These grants play a major role in the short- and long-term solutions the comprehensive housing solution aims to address with regards to student housing and basic needs insecurity.”

The three CSU grants consist of:

  • The College-Focused Rapid Re-Housing funding earmarks $870,000 annually for three years, divided between campus and housing partners.
  • The Basic Needs Partnerships funding provides $400,332 to be used through June 30, 2021.
  • The Mental Health Partnerships funding provides $125,000 to be used through June 30, 2021.

Separate from the CSU grants, SJSU will initiate a housing grant program during the 2020-2021 academic year. Awards will be provided to students who have the highest demonstrated financial need as determined by the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CA Dream Application consistent with California State University policy. Students who qualify for this grant may be eligible for up to $2,000. This housing grant can make a difference for more students to afford an on-campus living experience.

The Next Level of Student Housing at SJSU

San Jose State University believes student housing on campus should provide residential life opportunities and resources that have been shown to contribute to higher retention and graduation levels. In an effort to continue to keep pace with the needs of the student body, SJSU is in the development and planning stages of Campus Village 3 (CV3).

Similar to Campus Villages 1 and 2, CV3 will allow students to live with their peers and become immersed in living learning communities and student life activities. This residential housing facility will be located on campus targeting ongoing demand among undergraduate and transfer students. It will include on-site student services, offer nine and twelve month leases along with limited per-night commuter housing, and include a new dining complex. The residence hall will also include a defined number of rooms for students who may be experiencing housing insecurity.

Understanding that housing insecurity is not only affecting our students, but also college students in the region, San Jose State University is exploring the opportunity to develop a comprehensive multi-sector postsecondary residential community off-campus. This proposed mixed-use concept would provide off-campus subsidized housing opportunities that address the needs of the community and could work as a possible partnership between SJSU, community colleges, community organizations, businesses, the city of San Jose, and Santa Clara County. SJSU welcomes interested multi-sector partners to join this game-changing conversation and explore this concept further.

Ongoing Collaboration with Student Leaders

The comprehensive housing solution for students has included ongoing collaborative efforts by the university, Student Homeless Alliance (SHA) and Associated Students (AS). Through these discussions, three initiatives are anticipated to launch or expand services currently offered.

  • The establishment of a pilot program in fall of 2020 that will set aside 12 or more beds for emergency housing purposes to better understand the scope of need.
  • The expansion of rapid re-housing and rental assistance services for students facing an urgent housing insecurity situation.
  • The opening of a dedicated SJSU Cares space in Clark Hall designed collaboratively by students and staff at the university. This space will include a satellite office of the Bill Wilson Center, which the university has partnered with on the 100-Day Challenge.

“Many members of the campus came together to support the collaboration between the Student Homeless Alliance and the Administration,” said SHA president Diana Rendler. “Some located an appropriate central space for SJSUCares, the Student Homeless Alliance provided recommendations for the 12 or more emergency bed pilot program, a rental assistance program, and introduced the idea of the centralized location based on student voices while the Administration secured grant funds.”

Alquist Building: Future Plan for SJSU Faculty, Staff, Graduate and Family Housing

San Jose State University has plans to construct a mixed-use project that includes parking, retail, office space, food service, and between 800-1,200 units of housing intended primarily for SJSU faculty, staff, graduate students and students with families on the site of the Alfred E. Alquist Building. Most of the units would be available below market value. The site is owned by the California Department of General Services. Discussions to transfer the property to SJSU to make this project a reality have been positive and have been furthered by the advocacy of Senator Jim Beall and Assemblymember Ash Kalra.

The 130,000 square foot building, located at 100 Paseo de San Antonio in downtown San Jose, is just one block from the San Jose State University campus. It sits directly across from the Hammer Theatre, which SJSU operates in partnership with the City of San Jose. Paseo de San Antonio is one of the main corridors between San Jose State and Valley Transportation Authority light rail and bus lines. “This comprehensive housing solution works to keep our faculty and staff engaged with a campus that is in and of San Jose,” Papazian said. “We recognize that our faculty and staff are faced with the challenge of the cost of living in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. Our goal is to create a solution that encourages them to be a part of creating a very dynamic downtown San Jose.”

The Alfred E. Alquist building was dedicated in 1983 after its namesake, a long-serving state legislator, passed away in 2006. His wife, Elaine, succeeded him in office and served in California’s 13th Senate District for six years. Over the years, the site has housed multiple state government offices. San Jose State University would honor the Alquist legacy with a memorial on the building site.

In April 2019, Senator Beall and Assemblymember Kalra helped to secure funds for SJSU to conduct a planning study for a mixed-use housing initiative on the Alquist site. SJSU will launch a planning study this year and, in the process, gather input from members of the campus community.

“Redeveloping the Alquist building for a multi-use housing and campus facility would help address SJSU’s growing need for campus community housing and expand the campus facilities,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “The Alquist building has great potential to enhance the connection between San José State and the downtown esplanade. I am excited to work with Senator Beall in helping SJSU with the process of redeveloping an underused facility that will bring great value to the university and the City of San José.”

“We heartily embrace the partnership with San Jose State University to transform the Alquist Building to a multi-use high-rise that will provide affordable housing critically needed by our educators and students,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “This project will activate this important corridor of our Downtown, linking our anchor institution, SJSU, with the rapid growth of technology employers and housing to the West.”

About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 145 areas of study with an additional 108 concentrations — offered through its nine colleges.

With approximately 36,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing about 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 280,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

Kenneth Mashinchi
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Robin McElhatton
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