UCSD Students Consider Living in Cars Due to Housing Shortage

By Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley is a daily news reporter for The Epoch Times based in Southern California.
August 31, 2021 Updated: September 2, 2021

As students flock to campus, more than two thousand University of California San Diego (UCSD) students are still on the waiting list for campus housing.

The school apartments near campus are so scarce, some parents of students are considering letting their children sleep in an RV as a last resort.

To ensure social distancing protocols during the pandemic, UCSD canceled the three-person dormitories previously provided this year, and now only provide single and double rooms.

UCSD spokesperson Leslie Sepuka told The Epoch Times via email the cancellation of the triple-bedrooms reduced about 2,000 beds.

In a UCSD social media group for students living off-campus, a user posted about living in a camp van in the parking lots surrounding the campus. The author of the post said his friend’s son could not find accommodation when he returned to school and that his parents were considering buying him a camp van.

Several parents commented on the post, indicating they are considering the same solution.

Alicia Breton’s son is attending his second year at UCSD. During the outbreak of COVID-19 last year, Breton’s son moved back home for distance learning. He is currently looking for living accommodations when he returns to school in the fall.

Breton said her son was excited to return to school in person, but finding housing was unexpectedly difficult.

“We’re finding it extremely difficult to find something, anything, let alone something affordable,” Breton told The Epoch Times.

“He is on the waiting list everywhere, for on-campus and off-campus,” she added. “We’re on every waiting list for the apartment complexes and every time something gets posted he immediately responds, but you know there’s 30 responses within the first five minutes … so it’s almost like a lottery.”

“We’re hearing about students looking for RV lots; we haven’t found one close by. That definitely wouldn’t be ideal, but we’re trying to find any option that we can to find him housing,” Breton said. “It’s really a crisis right now.”

As of Aug. 23, there are still 2,133 UCSD students on the waitlist for on-campus housing. Among them, there are more than 1,500 undergraduates and nearly 560 postgraduates and doctoral students.

According to data provided by the school on Aug. 19, among the 1,670 undergraduates waiting for on-campus accommodation, 1,268 were sophomores, and only about 70 freshmen were on the list.

UCSD’s New Dormitory Can’t Keep Up with the Demand

In addition to the cancellation of the triple bed dormitories, Breton believes the number of admissions at UCSD rising every year, coupled with the eviction moratorium mandate, also catalyzes the student housing shortage.

In the past six years, the number of undergraduate students at UCSD has increased by 5,252, including 3,753 California residents, making it the branch campus with the highest undergraduate student growth in the UC system.

According to Sepuka, the growth in the student body is due to a policy issued by the state in 2015, which requires the UC system to increase enrollment for students its students.

Sepuka said as the number of people admitted to the university increases, the school is expanding its housing capacity accordingly. The newly completed North Torrey Pines campus last year added 2,000 beds to undergraduates, filling the beds lost in the cancellation of triple rooms this year.

According to the data provided by the school, UCSD has increased the housing capacity of undergraduate students by about 5,000 beds in the 11 years since the fall of 2010, but the number of undergraduate students has increased by more than 8,300 in the same period. The growth rate of dormitory beds has not kept up with the increase in the number of students.

UCSD continued to admit a record number of undergraduate freshmen this year, including 40,616 freshmen and 12,330 transfer students from community colleges in the state. However, Sepuka said that only about one‐quarter of admitted students accept the admissions offer and enroll. The total number of undergraduates in the fall of 2021 is about 32,000, hundreds more than last year.

Sepuka said that the school’s off-campus housing office and other departments are providing assistance to students facing difficulties and assisting students in finding stable housing.

UCSD has partnered with four local Marriott hotels to provide transitional accommodation for students. Students can stay in double rooms with breakfast and wireless internet at a discounted rate, which costs approximately $1,785 per person per month.

Tina Deng contributed to this report.

Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley is a daily news reporter for The Epoch Times based in Southern California.