Governor Brown Signs Senator Skinner’s SB 1227 to Boost Affordable Student Housing

September 29, 2018

Sacramento, CA – Today Governor Brown signed Senator Nancy Skinner’s (D-Berkeley) Senate Bill 1227 to boost the production of much needed student housing. Dubbed “Housing Our Students,” SB 1227 fixes state housing law to enable builders of units dedicated solely to house students to benefit from California’s density bonus law and local inclusionary housing policies.

“Too many California students are couch surfing, commuting for hours, or even living in their cars,” said Senator Skinner. “SB 1227 helps ensure California builds the housing our students desperately need.”

Since 1979, builders who opt to include affordable units in residential projects have been allowed to increase the total number of units in the project to cover the costs of the affordable units. Known as the state density bonus, this incentive allows housing developments to potentially include up to 35 percent more housing units than would otherwise be allowed. Many local government inclusionary ordinances also offer a density bonus to projects that specify a certain number of affordable units.

But until SB 1227, it was nearly impossible for a builder to apply the density bonus to new housing that caters exclusively to students, even if the project included affordable units. SB 1227 has removed these obstacles by: changing the definition of the unit configuration allowed, specifically allowing 100-percent student-serving housing projects to qualify based on the number of bedrooms or beds instead of the number of units; and allowing students to submit financial aid documents to demonstrate their eligibility for affordable units. 

With these changes, SB 1227 creates a path to constructing new housing for students enrolled in California’s higher education facilities and ensures that affordable student units can be included in that housing.

“SB 1227 is poised to spur more construction of housing, and importantly affordable housing, for college students up and down the state,” said Senator Skinner. “I want to get these projects built so students can 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.