Rental housing market suffocated by pandemic and forest fires in Santa Cruz County

Roughly 48 UC Santa Cruz graduate college students are staying with a school grant on the Greatest Western Plus All Suites Inn at 500 Ocean St. in Santa Cruz this fall. (Graycen Wheeler – Santa Cruz Native)

SANTA CRUZ >> Displaced victims of the wildfires and the return to in-person faculty lessons this fall have contributed to one of many tightest rental markets in years in Santa Cruz County, college directors stated this week and county authorities.

When in-person lessons at UC Santa Cruz have been suspended as a result of coronavirus in 2020, many college students selected to go away the county and never lease off-campus houses, county housing authorities stated. Then the CZU lightning advanced hearth broke out in August and left 911 households with no place to stay. At the least a few of these displaced by the fireplace have rented houses in Santa Cruz County, county housing authorities stated.

Quick ahead to this fall, and about 18,600 UCSC undergraduate and graduate college students have returned to class, stated UCSC spokesperson Scott Hernandez-Jason. College students discovered a revamped housing market and infrequently struggled to seek out lodging.

“A variety of graduate college students fled the burden of lease right here in the course of the pandemic as we labored remotely,” stated Jack Davies, a UCSC graduate scholar. “Not everybody has needed to again down but, however the administration is signaling that an increasing number of may have to take action by the winter quarter,” Davies stated. Davies can also be chairman of UCSC unit at UAW 2865 which represents faculty college students within the College of California system.

Many houses that have been rented to college students earlier than 2020 have offered and at the moment are owner-occupied, stated Peter Cook dinner, an actual property agent at Lighthouse Realty in Santa Cruz. Cook dinner estimated that greater than 50 houses that have been scholar leases offered in 2020 and at the moment are owner-occupied items.

Many of the remaining leases at the moment are occupied by non-student tenants. “A variety of them have moved right here from San Francisco, San Jose, the entire better Bay Space,” Cook dinner stated. “Should you can stay in Santa Cruz and telecommute, it is only a great spot.”

Lack of leases

As of October 15, 2020, there have been 394 listings on Craigslist for “residences and houses for lease” in Santa Cruz County. As of mid-October of this 12 months, there have been round 188 listings, lower than half of the listings out there on the location a 12 months in the past.

In the identical means, rental bulletins on Zillow in October are down roughly a 3rd from October 2020 and almost two-thirds of October 2019. Santa Cruz Metropolis and Santa Cruz County officers stated they aren’t always monitoring vacant rental housing.

Suzanne Isé, senior planner for the Santa Cruz County Planning Division’s housing division, stated rental listings on web sites don’t paint a full image of the rental market. Nonetheless, she stated she had heard from housing seekers that the rental market had tightened, significantly in northern Santa Cruz County.

“I had my eyes on loads of knowledge final 12 months as a result of I used to be a part of the CZU Fireplace restoration,” Isé stated.

Isé stated she noticed an uncommon improve in rental housing in 2020. She attributed it to UCSC college students who selected to not lease houses in Santa Cruz County when lessons weren’t held in anyone. “We have been sharing every kind of knowledge on the housing market with FEMA to attempt to present them, ‘Hey, we want you to open up these completely different applications to assist individuals affected by this hearth,’ Isé stated.

Finally, FEMA recognized sufficient rental housing close by that it didn’t have to erect non permanent buildings to accommodate the displaced residents. As a substitute, FEMA supplied help to fireplace victims in order that they may lease or purchase within the housing market, Isé stated.

The resort is principally house to graduate college students

This fall, about 120 graduate college students remained on a ready record for on-campus housing, stated Dave Keller, govt director of housing companies at UCSC.

The college due to this fact negotiated an settlement with the Greatest Western Plus All Suites Inn on Ocean Road in Santa Cruz to offer university-subsidized housing for graduate college students. The resort has allotted 60 of its 77 suites to UCSC graduate college students, in response to a entrance desk operations supervisor. Forty-eight graduate college students presently occupy these rooms, Keller stated.

They are going to be joined by no less than seven different college students for the winter time period, and rooms are nonetheless out there for graduate college students in want of lodging.

The college subsidizes the lease of graduate college students staying on the resort, which is equal to renting a room in lodging on campus. It prices the college $ 1,900 per room every month, which is greater than it prices to accommodate a scholar on campus, Keller stated.

UCSC second-year doctoral scholar Abdulaziz Alatawi stated he selected the resort choice after an unsuccessful seek for different areas.

“To be trustworthy, it was the one choice,” Alatawi stated. “I used to be pondering of staying in San José and commuting from there. The resort was like a present.

Like many UCSC college students, Alatawi studied remotely within the 2020-21 tutorial 12 months. Now that many college students are again on campus, they’re discovering that rental housing created by the pandemic has been crammed of their absence.

Davies, the chief of the college workers union, stated graduate college students have been being billed on many leases in Santa Cruz even earlier than the pandemic. Now, the common lease for a shared room is up greater than 50% in comparison with 2019, in response to UCSC rental knowledge.

Graduate college students have all the time fearful about rental costs, graduate scholar leaders stated. However additionally they must be involved with availability.

“I’m more and more involved that if we’re solely speaking concerning the difficulty of graduate scholar awards, we’re actually solely speaking about these we’re transferring,” stated Dan Copulsky, vp of shared governance. for the UCSC Graduate Pupil Affiliation. .

UCSC college students are an essential a part of the rental market in Santa Cruz, however they’re just one element of the rental ecosystem. Options just like the resort subsidy can take tenants out of the crowded rental pool. The deal between UCSC and the Greatest Western lasts till June 2022, however Keller and a resort gross sales supervisor have stated related offers are potential sooner or later.

Davies stated a brand new scholar graduating from his program ended up on the resort after struggling to discover a rental.

“He had lived in New York Metropolis earlier than and thought it will be good,” Davies stated. “He did not know Santa Cruz can be a lot worse than New York or Boston.”

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