San Jose State outlines plan to help combat ongoing housing crisis

After months of demonstrations, debates, and meetings, San Jose State University has laid out a plan to address the housing crisis that affects its students, faculty, and staff.

The largely-vacant Alfred Alquist Building in downtown San Jose is a brown behemoth that could serve more than the handful of offices inside. University officials hope to transform it into an integral part of a solution to a housing shortage.

“This isn’t just their problem. This is our problem too. Because these are our students,” said SJSU President Dr. Mary Papazian.

At a Monday news conference, President, elected leaders, and student and faculty representatives, announcing a multi-phased, multi-year approach to provide needed housing and services.

“This homeless thing with students is ah, I think literally getting out of hand. We have to do something about it,” said St. Sen. Jim Beall, (D) 15th District.

Under the six-point plan, upwards of $3 million in grant funding will go to support programs for housing insecurity, as well as planning and development of a Campus Village, containing three residential housing facilities. Discussions of an off-campus multi-sector residential community, and converting the Alquist Building to faculty, staff, and graduate student housing.

“This plan will not only assist our current faculty, it will help us in terms of our lives, our teaching, our living. It’ll also be a tremendous help in recruiting new faculty,” said Prof. Ravisha Mather, chairwoman of the SJSU Academic Senate.

San Jose state has already implemented some measures aimed at easing the housing crunch that’s affected dozens-students. Members of the Student Homeless Alliance have been pushing Papazian to do more, and say this announcement is a step toward the ultimate goal.

“We’re just really excited to be to this point. We know that this is just the beginning. The first steps of this. But we see a very bright future for Spartans here who are dealing with this,” said Briena Brown, president of the SJSU Student Homeless Alliance.

University officials say students in need have access to grants immediately. But converting the Alquist building, and constructing a campus village, may not be reality until the middle of the decade.