The Santa Rosa Junior College finally innovates in the student residence


Late Friday afternoon, State Senator Mike McGuire watched a crowd of Santa Rosa Junior College leaders, students and many locally elected officials.

“It’s one of the best days on campus in years,” said McGuire, D-Healdsburg, standing in front of a construction site at the corner of Elliot Avenue and Armory Drive.

Beside it, several golden shovels stuck in the sand finally marked the start of construction on the largest student housing development in the college’s 103-year history.

The five-story, 352-bed residence, which costs more than $ 60 million, has been under construction for more than three years, said Pedro Avila, vice president of student services. After delaying the construction schedule due to the effects of the pandemic on funding, it is expected to be ready for students in fall 2023.

College officials began discussing the development of student housing in 2017, Avila said, and then began to pursue the project in earnest a year later. Students struggled to find homes they could afford, following the North Bay Firestorm in October 2017. The fires destroyed 5,300 homes across the county, including 5% of homes in Santa Rosa. The fires that followed destroyed more homes.

Providing affordable housing is seen as a way to reduce the decline in enrollment, which has tended to decline since 2009.

“We are innovating to build equitable housing,” said Delashay Carmona Benson, student body president and member of the student workforce housing group, which has met monthly for the past few years to help lead the project.

Carmona Benson said one of the things she asked for was additional security at the residence. Now she is urging the college to offer a meal plan for resident students.

Avila said homeless students and those in host families or in low-income households will be given priority for placement in student housing.

The cost of the project has risen sharply since December 2020, when SRJC leaders set it at $ 46.5 million. The current cost estimate, including construction, financing and permits, is $ 64 million.

In 2014, voters approved Measure H to allow college leaders to sell $ 410 million in bonds to investors to pay for campus expansion, improvements and technology upgrades. A portion of the money from the sale of general bonds will go to the student housing project and Kaiser Permanente has donated $ 1 million. The college is still actively seeking other donors to support the project.

The Texan company Servitas, specializing in the development of student accommodation, is managing the project. Weitz, based in Des Moines, Iowa, is the entrepreneur.

Students will be able to choose from a few room options among the 258 units. Those in single or double rooms will share bathrooms with the rest of the floor, while those in single semi-suites with two single bedrooms or four-bedroom apartments will have private bathrooms.

The rent will include the use of washing machines and common utilities. Each room will be furnished with a bed, desk and chair, dresser and closet.

Avila said the Workforce Housing Group has kept housing affordability for students at the heart of the project.

“If you ever had to sleep in the street, in a shelter, in your car or if you had to bounce from house to house, because there was no place to call at home, this project is dedicated to you” , did he declare.

You can reach Editor-in-Chief Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or [email protected] On Twitter @ka_tornay.

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