In the past year we have made some progress on affordable student family housing at UC Berkeley. After releasing the documentary (watch it in the post below), the Chancellor's office called and set up a meeting. The VRA Board was able to meet with the Chancellor and present detailed information about the financial difficulties of student families in the Village. The Chancellor seemed sympathetic and asked several administrators, including Dean Szeri of the Graduate Division, to make a recommendation about how to address the problem. They proposed that $4 million from the sale/lease of the former Section A land on the corner of San Pablo and Monroe be put into an endowment, with the proceeds funding need-based grants for student families.
Student families will not receive the $4 million unless the land is sold or leased, so we are now waiting for the deal on the sale or lease of the land to be finalized. When the money is allotted, Village residents will be deeply involved in spelling out the details of the grants and deciding how to award them.
The VRA feels this is an important step in the fight for affordable student family housing, but there is still work to do. We have long wanted a fundraiser to work with us in contacting former Village residents to solicit donations for the Village. Campus has been promising to hire someone to work with us for two years. While we have been waiting, a VRA board member even compiled names and contact information of hundreds and hundreds of University Village alumni. To date, however, campus has yet to fill this particular fundraising position, and we are left wondering whether this is actually a priority for them.
As for future plans, we will continue to push for a fundraiser and keep looking for ways to help the affordable housing situation. Even if we get the $4 million, it will not meet the need in the Village. It will be a big help, of course, but there is more to do. All told, we are moving forward in the right direction, but there are still miles to go before we rest.