Last week, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) introduced a bill to create a $5 billion fund for student housing development that would supplement the $2 billion in funding created last year for the California Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program.

The bill, AB 1602, would create an interest-free revolving loan fund using one-time funding to provide financial assistance to public colleges and universities. The funds, which would be used to build new units or demolish old units and renovate existing dorms, would need to be paid within 30 years from rent collected from students. It is estimated that this new fund could house more than 21,000 students. The bill will begin to move through the legislative process and is expected to first be heard in the Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education in March.

In September 2021, Governor Newsom signed SB 169, creating the California Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program to support low-income students and facilitate access to higher education by increasing the current stock of affordable student housing.  

 Under SB 169, a total of $2 billion was appropriated over a 3-year period, with 50% reserved for community colleges, 30% for California State University, and 20% for the University of California. Up to $25 million in funding will be made available to community colleges to conduct planning grants covering a variety of studies needed to determine the feasibility of housing development.  

 The program is rolling out quickly – applications for the first round of funding were due by October 31, 2021. It is expected that the State’s Department of Finance will forward projects that meet the program requirements to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee by March 1, 2022. They will also submit a list of projects for inclusion in the State’s Budget.