State Senate Approves Senator Skinner’s Bill to Boost Student Housing

May 17, 2018

State Senate Approves Senator Skinner’s Bill to Boost Student Housing

Today, the California State Senate on a bipartisan vote passed Senator Nancy Skinner’s (D-Berkeley) Senate Bill 1227, aimed at making it easier to build much needed student housing. Dubbed “Housing Our Students,” SB 1227 would change state housing law to encourage the construction of housing for students enrolled in California colleges and universities and ensure that affordable student units are included in that housing.

“Too many California students are having to couch surf, commute for hours, or even live in their cars,” said Senator Skinner. “SB 1227 eases the process to build the housing our students so desperately need.”

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 apply the state’s density bonus law to 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.

SB 1227 will encourage the construction of more housing and more affordable housing for college students up and down the state,” said Senator Skinner. “Students deserve to focus on learning instead of worrying about whether they have a place to live.”

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.