UC Berkeley doubles down: Student families hit with rent increase amid poverty crisis
This message comes from friends of UAW 2865–the Village Resident’s Association, an advocacy group for University Village residents.
UC Berkeley’s Residential Services has announced a 3% rent increase in its dedicated family housing for students and staff, University Village Albany. This announcement comes as campus groups are scrambling to address a food poverty crisis among student families. University Village residents already faced a 1.5% rent increase last year.
A survey conducted by the Village Residents’ Association (VRA) last year found that around 70% of families are surviving on less than a living wage, and 45% are reliant on food assistance to survive. This survey was cited by the Graduate Student Workers’ Union (UAW 2865) in its campaign for fairer compensation for students. Based on mounting evidence about food poverty in the academic community, there are now plans to create a $90k food pantry at the Cesar Chavez Student centre, as well as an emergency food assistance program for UC Berkeley students. The report from the VRA’s survey is attached, along with a summary of the data.
Despite this awareness of the extent of the poverty that student families at University Village already face, RSSP has doubled down on its policy of rent increases. Two months ago, liaisons at RSSP told the VRA that they did not yet have enough information about their plans for rent increases to meet. This is despite a longstanding agreement to discuss such plans with the VRA in advance so that they could be informed of the impact on residents. After two months of stalling on arranging a meeting, RSSP is now declaring a rent increase that they have already been told will put families under untenable financial strain.
Rent increases are a universal problem of course, but this is housing created with student families in mind. The decision to raise rents is ultimately being made by the same people who decide not to raise salaries above poverty level. University Village is a microcosm of the University of California’s catastrophic policies, and student families are among the worst hit.
A public meeting in University Village will be held to address the rent increase on May 15th . We hope to include not just residents and management, but also press and allies from campus groups. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.