Frequently asked questions about People's Park Housing.
What will happen to those who currently live or hang out at the park during the day?
We are committed to providing better solutions for unhoused people than sleeping outdoors in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
We have heard the voices of those who advocate for their interests: We will proceed with construction only after having a plan in place that will offer access to shelter and services to the 40-50 people currently sleeping in the park. This is consistent with the campus's current commitments and efforts.
We are donating land at the park for the construction of new housing for unhoused people.
We employ a full-time social worker whose sole focus is the needs and interests of unhoused people in the park. Through his efforts, as of March 2022:
- More than 100 households have found permanent housing solutions.
- 15 more households are currently on the permanent supportive housing queue.
- 16 more households either have housing vouchers and are actively searching, or are in process with a specific housing site.
We are committed to doing all we can for those that will accept our support.
Every week our social worker, facilities manager, and director of local government and community relations meet with city and civic leaders to coordinate and improve efforts to meet the needs of unhoused people in the Park and surrounding neighborhoods. Through partnerships with the City of Berkeley and Alameda County, we are working to connect park users with shelter and services, long before construction begins.
Will the campus or a private developer operate the student housing?
The campus will develop, own, and operate the student housing at People's Park. There are no private developers. There are no private operators. No profits are being generated for private entities.
Will the campus or a private developer operate the supportive housing?
The campus will entrust the facility's daily operations and services to experts in this area and will not itself be providing supportive housing. We have made the commitment to provide land for the facility and selected Resources for Community Development (RCD), a Berkeley-based non-profit firm with over 35 years of experience, to develop and operate the supportive housing component.
The campus is making a long-term commitment to the supportive housing residents, including creating regular internship opportunities for students in public health and social welfare to work with RCD's service providers.
What are the current crime statistics associated with the park?
Summary of “Part-1 Crimes (January 2013 – July 2021):
- 3 homicides were reported.
- 15 robberies were reported.
- 9 rapes were reported.
- 57 thefts were reported.
- 3 arsons were reported.
- 17 other fire calls were documented.
Summary of other calls for service (January 2013 – July 2021):
- Assault or battery: 162
- Assault with a deadly weapon: 31
- Domestic violence: 10
- Knife possession: 24
- Indecent exposure: 7
- Drugs/narcotics contacts: 192
- Dangerous animal: 43
- Noise: 74
- Trespassing: 24
How will we keep the open spaces of the park from reverting to their current character?
There is extensive criminal activity at People's Park, much of it violent. People who frequent and/or currently sleep in the park are usually victims, not the perpetrators, of this activity. Whatever one thinks of the ideals that motivated the creation of the park, it is hard to see the park today as embodying those ideals.
The park was originally envisioned as an open, welcoming, and inclusive place — this project is consistent with the park’s past. Our plans offer not just housing, but the promise of a safer neighborhood for all, and a revitalized park that will be used by all.
The configuration of the new park will be thoughtfully designed to allow clear views and daylighting. Walkways and paths will bring pedestrians and residents of the new housing through the site, rather than around it. Features of the new park will allow a wider array of individuals to enjoy the park.
The new park will be well illuminated at night, and its design will focus on visibility throughout — no hidden corners. If places are visible to the public, crime is less likely to occur. The new student and supportive housing buildings will feature entries and windows facing the open space that allow residents to view and monitor activities in the surrounding neighborhood.
How big is the new park?
In fact, most of the site, approximately 1.7-acres (which is about 1 1/3 football fields in size) will be maintained as green, open park space. Many of the existing trees will be preserved. We believe in a safe, revitalized park that will be used by a wider segment of students and the Berkeley community.
How tall are the new buildings?
The student housing is one building, which is divided into two wings. The main entrance is on the ground floor, at the intersection of these two wings.
The north wing features 11 floors of student apartments over a ground floor and a partial basement level. The height of the north wing varies from 127 feet, up to 154 feet where there is a small mechanical room with elevator and building systems on the roof.
The south wing is raised to create an open and airy pass-through into the new park space below. This wing has 6 floors comprised entirely of student apartments with an average total height of 95 feet. The south wing is intentionally setback from Bowditch Street with lush garden plantings and trees.
The height of the student housing aligns with the City's Southside Plan that will regulate privately-developed buildings in this area.
Placement of the student housing has been carefully considered to provide abundant sunshine onto the newly refurbished park space, and on the First Church of Christ Scientist's historic stained glass windows and iconic wisteria vines across the street.
Will rent for the student housing be below-market for Berkeley?
All campus housing is offered at rates lower than market in the City of Berkeley, and this project is no exception
Our goal is to provide safe, secure, high-quality residential communities for all campus student housing. This includes offering functional, convenient and comfortable housing at a rate similar to that of other campus housing.
Who will be eligible to live in the student housing?
Currently enrolled students only are eligible to live in campus housing. This includes undergraduates and graduate students.
A significant percentage of our students are not able to live in Berkeley due to the low supply of housing and high market prices. Living far from campus impedes a student's ability to thrive academically, socially, and culturally. While the majority of freshmen live in campus housing, this challenge is especially acute for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Today, the majority of non-freshmen live in privately-owned, market-rate housing that is often far from campus.
In developing our plans for campus housing, we have the goal of increasing both the number of beds and the housing options for continuing students (i.e., non-freshmen) and for graduate and professional students. This project is ideal for helping to meet those objectives.
Once constructed, this project will create new campus housing for over 1,000 sophomores, juniors, and seniors. These students overwhelmingly request campus apartments, and our existing supply is insufficient to meet the demand. Accordingly, every unit in the student housing built at People's Park will be apartment-style.
Who will be eligible to live in the supportive housing?
Resources for Community Development (RCD), a Berkeley-based non-profit firm with over 35 years of experience, will develop and operate the supportive housing component. The campus has made the commitment to provide land for the facility. RCD will select the residents of the supportive housing. Various nonprofit and government programs fund supportive housing. These funding programs often focus on particular populations. For example, there some programs are regionally based, and others target specific groups such as unhoused parents, military veterans and the developmentally disabled. The demographics of the residents in the proposed supportive housing will therefore be linked to the funding source.
Are the student housing and supportive housing buildings connected?
The supportive housing at People's Park will be a separate building from the student housing. Both buildings will have controlled access for residents. The student housing will provide the same measures we use in the rest of our residence halls (e.g. access through a key card), including the student housing across the street from the park.
How many beds will there be at each facility?
The supportive housing building will have approximately 100 apartments. The exact number of apartment homes will be determined as the density and programming details are finalized in the coming months.
The student housing will house approximately 1,110 undergraduates (sophomores, juniors, and seniors) in apartment-style units.
Will the campus need to expend funds for any part of the project?
The campus will develop, own, and operate the student housing at People's Park. There are no private developers. There are no private operators. No profits are being generated for private entities. As a campus-developed project, the university is responsible for funds spent on the student housing and landscaped areas. The project will primarily be financed.
The campus has made the commitment to provide land for the supportive housing. The supportive housing facility will be separately financed and developed by Resources for Community Development (RCD). Various government programs fund supportive housing, and this project is no exception. RCD has already secured housing vouchers from the City of Berkeley for this project and is moving forward to select additional funding programs that are best suited for this site.
What is the anticipated timeline for the project?
The project was announced in May 2017. The campus undertook a multi-year, highly collaborative planning and design process that included extensive public engagement opportunities.
The project has passed through campus approval processes and public review processes, including an environmental review, in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Additionally, throughout the development and approval processes, the project has been shared by the campus with city, community, and legislative stakeholders.
The project has been presented to the UC Board of Regents, and at their meeting in September 2021, they approved the project. Construction will begin in 2022.
The goal is for completion by summer 2024, so that more than 1,000 students can move in at the beginning of the 2024/2025 academic year.
Why doesn't the campus build new housing somewhere else, such as Clark Kerr Campus?
In response to the Bay Area housing crisis, the campus committed to double its existing student housing. This requires over 8,000 new beds, and that requires building on every site yet identified for new housing.
As of November 2021, UC Berkeley has six student housing sites in various stages of development:
- Intersection Apartments (105 units) - nearing completion
- Anchor House (772 beds) - under construction
- People's Park Housing (1,113 beds) - in development
- Albany Village Graduate Student Housing (760 beds) - in development
- Upper Hearst (150 units) - in development
- 2200 Bancroft (750 - 800 beds) - conceptual planning
Together, these six projects achieve less than half of our goal to double existing student housing, which requires over 8,000 new beds.
Because the six projects currently in development achieve less than half of our housing goal, additional sites have been identified and will subsequently be developed. However, these additional sites are more challenging, more difficult, and more costly to develop.
Clark Kerr Campus is one of these additional sites and new housing will subsequently be developed there. However, there are legal covenants that restrict new housing development at the Clark Kerr Campus until after the year 2032.
It is not a question of which sites to develop: we need to utilize every single site identified for new housing, plus more, in order to meet our goal.
Building on undeveloped university property that lacks water, electricity, and transportation infrastructure is not feasible due to prohibitive costs and environmental considerations.