HSU Joins Effort to Create New Student Housing - Humboldt State Now

HSU Joins Effort to Create New Student Housing

Humboldt State University is working to finalize a partnership with the development group AMCAL to create new housing for more than 600 students near campus.

The project, a significantly revised version of the Village project that has been in development for a number of years, would increase the availability of quality, safe, and affordable housing for students. The University’s role would be to manage the facility in much the same way it manages on-campus residence halls.

If approved by the City of Arcata, the Village could be completed in time for occupancy as soon as Fall 2020.

University officials have shared the emerging plans with a number of city officials over the last week. A group from HSU joined AMCAL representatives to speak about the plans at last night’s Arcata City Council meeting.

President’s letter to the Arcata City Council

“We’re really excited about this opportunity,” said Douglas Dawes, HSU’s Vice President for Administrative Affairs. “Our students have been clear about the lack of enough housing options near campus, and the same issue was raised by the external consultants who conducted our market demand study last year.”

A recent statewide study, co-authored by HSU Professor Jennifer Maguire, showed that 1 in 5 HSU students experienced housing insecurity at least once in the last year. And students of color at HSU have continued to report particular challenges finding and maintaining housing close to campus.

The project would go a long way toward addressing those challenges, according to HSU President Lisa Rossbacher.

“The situation is urgent. I have heard countless stories from students who have struggled to find housing, and I have seen the statistics. We need to act,” Rossbacher said.

The Village project proposal has changed in numerous ways in recent weeks, which allowed the University to seek to formally partner with AMCAL. Until very recently, the project did not represent a viable partnership. What changed, especially since discussions on May 8, is that the development team made significant modifications based on feedback from students and the community.

The major changes recently made to the project include:

• Costs to student residents have been reduced, with rents set to be slightly lower than similar units on campus. Amenities have been reduced in favor of greater affordability.
• Concerns expressed by neighbors have been addressed, including reducing the heights of some units and adding more parking.
• Community space and the individual units have been reconfigured to more closely match the needs expressed by students in HSU’s most recent market demand report. Other changes have been made in response to student meetings with the developer.

The latest plans feature housing for 602 students in two-story and three-story buildings, as well as 409 parking spaces. Students would be able to lease fully furnished spaces for academic terms with no large security deposit required. There would be social and study areas throughout, as well as a fitness center and basketball court.

Under the management agreement, AMCAL would provide funding for HSU to manage the facility. Students would be provided support and programming, and a full-time Residence Life Coordinator would live at the facility along with a team of Resident Advisor student employees. University Police and HSU facilities staff would provide services.

HSU does not have the ability or interest at this time to purchase the facility. The long-term goal is managing the facility to support students and their academic success.

In addition to partnering with AMCAL on the Village project, HSU is planning for new on-campus housing for first-year students.

The two projects would complement one another, with the new on-campus facility housing just over 400 first-year students. Planning began following a market demand study conducted by external consultants last year, which found a housing need for both first-year and upper-class students. Work on the on-campus project could be completed by Fall 2022.