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 believe we can and must do better than simply provide open camping space, that is unsafe and unsanitary, for those who do not have housing security. We believe the university has an obligation, as a member of the city's community, to help address this crisis.

In 2021, Chancellor Christ promised that the site would not be closed unless and until housing, services, and a new daytime gathering center could be provided to unhoused people sleeping and/or gathering there. Since the summer of 2022, an unprecedented partnership between the university, the City of Berkeley, and the State of California has spent more than $6 million, in order to offer unhoused people who have been regularly living and/or gathering in the park, access to transitional housing and supportive services, and to a new daytime drop-in center that is providing food, restrooms, showers, and additional supportive services.

We are donating land at the park for the construction of new permanent supportive housing for unhoused and extremely low-income people.

We employ a full-time social worker whose sole focus is the needs and interests of unhoused people in the park. To date he has helped more than 200 people find permanent housing.

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.

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. The campus has made the commitment to provide land at not cost for the facility, and will select a development partner 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 the service providers.

What are the current crime statistics associated with the park?

Criminal activity at People's Park has inreased since enforcement of no-camping rules was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic. Unhoused people at the site have far too often been the victims of criminal activity, while students and other residents of the neighborhood have expressed alarm about deteriorating public safety in the area.

In the past 5 years, there have been: one murder, 19 rapes, 26 robberies, 120 aggravated assaults, and 70 drug and 13 weapons arrests.

View a complete chart of criminal activity for the past 5 years at People's Park.

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?

More than 60% of the site, approximately 1.7-acres (which is about 1 1/3 football fields in size) will be preserved and revitalized as green public park space. Many of the existing trees will be preserved, and many more new trees and native plants will be added.

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 of UC Berkeley's student 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?

The campus has made the commitment to provide land for the facility and will partner with a third party development firm 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 service providers to support residents as part of their academic studies.

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?

They are two separate and unconnected buildings. Both buildings will have controlled access for their 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 a development firm. Various government programs fund supportive housing, and this project is no exception.

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 numerous 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 repeatedly 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 began, and was paused in August 2022, due to violence, unlawful protest activity. An appellate court also issued a new injunction later that month that further delayed resuming construction at People’s Park.

In September 2023, Governor Newsom signed bill AB1307 that addresses the central concerns of the appellate court: that "social noise" is not subject to CEQA review, and that UC Berkeley conducted an adequate study of project alternatives. AB1307 was sponsored by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks and passed with unanimous votes by both houses of the California State legislature.

We look forward to the California State Supreme Court's ruling on the campus's appeal of the appellate court's decision. Construction will not resume until legal issues are fully resolved by the California Supreme Court.

The courts have repeatedly affirmed the university's ability to enforce the site's legal status as a closed construction zone while legal issues are being resolved.

Why doesn't the campus build new housing somewhere else, such as Clark Kerr Campus?

Since establishing our housing goals in 2017, UC Berkeley has completed two housing projects. As of January 2024, five more housing projects are in development and in planning. Together, these seven projects will achieve nearly two-thirds of our goal to double existing student housing, which requires more than 9,000 new beds.

However, in order to reach our student housing goals (2 years of housing for freshmen, and 1 year of housing for entering transfers and graduate students) it is not a question of which sites to develop. In order to develop more than 9,000 new beds, we must use them all.

Because thousands of beds are still required to achieve our goals, seven additional housing sites have been identified and will subsequently be developed:

  • 2000 Carlton Street (approx. 400 new beds; requires relocation of existing Facilities Services uses)
  • Beverly Cleary (approx. 300 new beds; redevelopment of existing housing to increase capacity)
  • Clark Kerr Campus (where development of new housing is restricted until after 2032 by legal covenants)
  • Foothill North (approx. 70 new beds; redevelopment of existing housing to increase capacity)
  • Oxford Tract (approx. 2,000 new beds; requires relocation of existing Rasser College programs)
  • Unit 3 (approx. 600 new beds; redevelopment of existing housing to increase capacity)
  • Upper Hearst (150 apartment units; currently a parking lot)

Building on undeveloped university property that lacks water, electricity, and transportation infrastructure is not feasible due to prohibitive costs and environmental considerations.