Nancy Skinner’s SB 1227 to Boost Student Housing Clears Senate Transportation and Housing Committee

April 24, 2018

Nancy Skinner’s SB 1227 to Boost Student Housing Clears Senate Transportation and Housing Committee

This afternoon, the California State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee passed Senator Nancy Skinner’s (D-Berkeley) bill aimed at increasing the production of needed housing for California’s college and university students. The bill, SB 1227, would change state housing law to encourage the construction of student housing and ensure affordable student units are included in that housing. SB 1227 will now move to Senate Appropriations.

“Housing can be one of the biggest costs of going to college; as we work to open higher education to all students, we also have to make student housing more available and more affordable,” said Senator Skinner. “SB 1227 incentivizes both more housing for students and more affordable student housing.”

Under current state law, builders who opt to include affordable units in their residential projects are allowed to pay for the added affordability by increasing the number of housing units in the project. Known as the state density bonus, this incentive allows housing developments to potentially include up to 35 percent more housing units.

Unfortunately, builders of student housing confront two obstacles: One, student housing doesn’t necessarily follow typical housing configurations, and may have multiple beds on a floor with a shared kitchen and bathroom. Additionally, students may not qualify for “affordable units” as defined in statute because students may not have proof of personal income. These restrictions make it nearly impossible to build new housing that caters exclusively to students and to include affordable student units that qualify for the state’s affordable housing incentives.

SB 1227 would open up California’s density bonus incentives to 100 percent student-serving housing projects. Under SB 1227, students would be able to submit financial aid documents to qualify for the affordable units. The changes would also allow student-housing projects to apply the density bonus based on the number of bedrooms or beds instead of the number of housing units.

“California needs to do more to encourage housing that works and is affordable for students,” said Senator Skinner. “SB 1227 is a step in the right direction to get more student housing built.”

Senator Nancy Skinner (@NancySkinnerCA) represents the 9th Senate District. She serves as Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Budget Subcommittee on Corrections, Public Safety and the Judiciary.