Amid all the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Isla Vista community appears to be plagued by another challenge: an unprecedented housing shortage.
UC Santa Barbara students are struggling to find housing near the beachfront campus just weeks before the 2021-22 school year begins, and some are desperately considering living in their cars or tents just to attend classes at the prestigious four-year university program.
“I was literally crying on the phone with the housing department at the university. What am I supposed to do? I've never been homeless in my life, ”Alexandria Matthews, a third-year transfer student from UCSB, told Noozhawk. "My education is my number one priority, so I'll just sleep in my car if I have to."
The Isla Vista community is home to thousands of UCSB and Santa Barbara City College students, as well as longtime residents, due to its proximity to the UCSB campus.
While many factors play a role in the current housing crisis, including high college tuition rates and the amount of college housing, many students blame what they see as UCSB's lack of communication about back-to-face classes and opportunities. housing.
Numerous students told Noozhawk that UCSB did not announce the return to face-to-face classes for the fall 2021-22 term until a few months before the start of the school year, leaving students with little time to discover their life situations.
“(The university) kept saying, 'We won't force you to go in person,' 'There will be many options for online classes.' I spoke to three people at the university over the summer, and then I went to plan my classes at the end of July and all of a sudden they are all in person, ”said Matthews. "UCSB has really disappointed me, and now I'll probably live in my car for a while just because they were wrong."
Naresh Pillay, an economics graduate, told Noozhawk that many students had not signed 12-month leases in February or March as they normally would due to the COVID-19 situation at the time and because the university had no a clear plan on whether classes would be face-to-face or online until mid-summer. UCSB held nearly all of its 2020-21 classes online.
“This caused a stir for both new students and those returning very late in the time frame of the housing search, which has caused many of these problems,” he said.
Michelle Roberson, owner of Sierra Property Management Co., said that all of Sierra's leases were completed in mid-to-late July and that no housing is available for the student population.
“The demand for housing is really high right now. We are contacted by people looking for housing several times a day, preferably in Isla Vista, ”Roberson told Noozhawk. "But now they are quite desperate, so people are even looking further afield."
Roberson said the leasing situation has been "tenuous" with a "lot of maybe" as students didn't know if they would return to campus.
“It was almost a perfect storm. At the same time that the university made its offers to the people and let the first-year students know that they did not have enough housing for them, it was at the same time that they announced the return to face-to-face classes, ”he said. “The students who came back and realized they could go back, those were the ones who stayed behind.”
Students have posted on Reddit forums asking if there are places where they can sleep in tents on Isla Vista due to homelessness, and other students have offered information on living out of cars and where to park them for the long term. Isla Vista.