Thursday, February 20, 2020     Volume: 20, Issue: 51

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 15th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 46 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 46

Allan Hancock College looks at potential on-campus housing


Allan Hancock College is still considering the option of on-campus housing, a potential plan that’s been in the works since President Kevin Walthers joined the school in 2013. But it’s unclear how such housing would happen, who would build it, how many units there would be, or even how much it would cost to build.

“This probably comes up every couple of years,” Walthers said. “How can we help our students who don’t live in the area?”

It’s hard for students to get leases, Walthers said, and if they do, the local rental market is often too high for a typical student.

The college’s board of trustees was scheduled to hear a presentation on the issue at its Jan. 14 meeting, after the Sun went to press. 

Walthers, who spoke with the Sun prior to the meeting, said that Hancock has about 5 acres of vacant blacktop, and every time a developer comes to look at it, they say the same thing: The costs of building won’t be rewarded with a good enough return. Affordable housing nonprofits might not be the best fit either, Walthers said, because typically there are limits on who can live there.

“All of the options would involve someone else building the units and managing them,” he said.

The idea of adding housing on a community college campus isn’t new. The American Association of Community Colleges reports in a recent poll that 25 percent of community colleges nationwide offer on-campus housing.

California is notorious for rising housing costs, compounding the already high price of attending college.

Orange Coast College in Orange County is giving student housing a try with 800 beds scheduled to be available by the fall. The school reports on its website that no public funds have gone into the construction of the student housing; the money comes from construction and financing companies.

Walthers said Hancock’s needs are different and estimates it might aim for 90 to 120 beds if housing is built. 

But, he said, the incentive to build remains a problem. He said builders have estimated they would see a 1 percent return on building on the school’s vacant space. Walthers said the immediate goal was to huddle with Hancock’s board to properly vet all the options. m

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