After seeing a need for affordable housing on or near campus, administrators at Orange Coast College hoped to meet that need by bringing student housing to OCC.
Concepts came to fruition last year and ground was broken for the college’s on-campus student housing project, The Harbour.
“There was a demand seen. Affordable housing in this area was needed for students. The expectation is that we are going to fill up the building,” said Lani Farley, community director.
At the beginning of last month, students began applying for housing opening in the fall. Despite pricing not being released yet, students were encouraged by the housing office to get in their application if they were interested because they anticipated beds filling quickly.
In addition, priority would go to homeless students and students in the foster care system, further limiting availability for other student applicants.
The units will be furnished with a full kitchen and expenses like WiFi and utilities will be included. With that and no commute, officials hoped the units would quickly fill.
Last week, the pricing was released and it was higher than some expected. The most affordable option is a shared room in a unit for four with a rent of $1,000 per person per month.
International students were identified as a group that would benefit from on-campus housing through market studies conducted by campus administrators.
“We do anticipate a strong interest from that student community, as well as students who are coming from either out of state or out of district. [OCC] has a pretty high out of state student population for a community college and that often overlaps with athletes, so we do anticipate that will meet a need for some of those students,” said Jamie Kammerman, director of Housing and Residential Education.
On-campus student housing does have benefits — like further involving students in campus life, creating a sense of community and support and as a result potentially increasing graduation rates, Kammerman said.
One of the most attractive qualities about these units is the full kitchen, making them feel like an apartment rather than a dorm. Although access to a full-sized refrigerator and stove are appreciated amenities, food is a huge expense that isn’t factored into the cost of rent.
At Cal State Fullerton, students can rent single apartments for about $1,600/month. These apartments are furnished and include 80 meals in the all-you-care-to-eat dining hall.
The single apartments at The Harbour are about $2,000 per month with no meals included.
A goal of the student housing project is to provide housing for students who have lengthy commutes, although other options within a 15-minute drive of campus are often less expensive.
There are options in Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Westminster for students to rent a studio apartment for $1,500 per month or a room in a house for about $700 per month.
Although the housing department does not have much say about the rent pricing, they are working toward a housing scholarship initiative to help sponsor students in need but nothing has been finalized yet on what the requirements will be or how much aid they will be providing.
“The college is committed to seeking out financial resources to make housing more affordable to some of our students, but there is also a financial model we have to meet with the agreements that we have,” Kammerman said.