Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis Concludes Tour Highlighting State Investments in Student Housing


Thursday, April 13, 2023 (916) 445-8994

Sacramento – This week Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis wrapped up a 3-day mini tour of California public higher education campuses that have received historic state investments in affordable student housing. The tour included the University of California Irvine, Sierra College in Rocklin, and San Francisco State University. 

Image of Lt. Governor with students at UC Irvine

“We need more affordable housing in California,” said Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis. “Over the past four years, I have visited almost 30 universities and have met with countless students who shared experiences of housing insecurity. Thanks to projects like the ones at UC Irvine, Sierra College, and SF State, more California students can focus on their education rather than worry about where they will sleep at night. I’m deeply proud of our state’s historic commitment to supporting the total cost of college attendance for students and ensuring every Californian has a shot at achieving the California dream.” 

In 2021 the legislature and Newsom administration approved historic state funding for student housing and basic needs to address the rising cost of college attendance for students. Housing remains one of the most significant barriers to accessing California’s higher education institutions. According to a study from UCLA, 1 in 20 University of California students, 1 in 10 California State University students, and 1 in 5 California Community College students report experiencing homelessness at some point during the academic year. 

Twenty-five affordable student housing projects were selected to receive more than $1.4B in funding from the Higher Education Student Housing Grant program. These projects will add over 7,000 new beds for students across the state. 11 California Community Colleges (CCC) projects, 8 California State University (CSU) projects and 5 University of California (UC), and one joint project were selected.  

Image of Lt. Governor touring UCI's new Health facility

Image of Lt. Governor with students at Sierra College 's groundbreaking for affordable student housing

Image of Lt. Governor at SF State's groundbreaking for affordable student housing

Project Highlights:  

University of California Irvine received $65M from the California Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program, covering approximately 80% of the total costs of the Mesa Court Residence Hall expansion. The project will add 300 new undergraduate beds and capitalize on the existing services at the nearby Mesa Court Towers. The project is expected to be completed in fall of 2026.  

Sierra College received approximately 80% ($80.4M) of the necessary funding for their 354-bed project from the California Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program. The project represents a nearly 300% increase in available on-campus housing. The monthly student rent will be just $450, and an “Endow-a-bed” program will subsidize additional discounts. The project is expected to be completed in early 2025.  

San Francisco State’s West Campus Green project will add 750 affordable beds for first-year students, representing a 20% increase in beds available on campus. In previous years, SFSU has had nearly 2000 students on waitlists for campus housing. Approximately 65% ($116.3M) of the project funding comes from California’s Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program. The housing component of the project is projected to open in fall 2024.  

What They’re Saying:

“It was a pleasure to host Lt. Gov. Kounalakis this week and show her how we are expanding much-needed student housing on campus,” said UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman. “We are grateful to the state for its generous support of this effort, which will allow us to provide a richer college experience to even more of our state’s best and most ambitious students.” 

Housing is one of the biggest barriers for many students to attend and be successful in college, and Sierra College, along with support from the State of California and generous local donors, will provide housing for 350+ students per year at rents below the expensive local market rate,” said Willy Duncan, Superintendent/President of Sierra College. “This housing for students is possible through support from the State of California, general funds from Sierra College, and generous local donors who have made commitments endowing beds allowing us to provide students housing at below-market rates.” 

“With this project, more first-year students will have access to affordable housing, which is critical here in the Bay Area,” said SF State Vice President of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management Jamillah Moore. “That’s because when students have safe, stable, and affordable housing, they are more likely to enroll, excel and graduate.”