UCSB junior Sirapat Cupradinan spent 12 days at Super 8 Hotel because he could not find a place to rent this year in Isla Vista. A chemistry major from Victorville, Cupradinan spent about $900 — money he was supposed to use for books and electronics — on hotel bills. On Monday, he was lucky enough to find a room for $650 per month in an elderly woman’s home on Hollister Avenue about five miles from campus, beating a few others who were interested. It’s not ideal, because he doesn’t have a car, and he rides his mountain bike to and from campus. “I just have to take what I can, I guess,” he said. “I am broke now. I ran out of cash.”
Cupradinan, whose housing on Abrego Road fell through, is not alone in his last-minute search. UCSB’s community housing office received a higher number of requests from students who needed help finding a place this year than they have in past years. As of Tuesday, 42 students were actively looking and seeking help from the Community Housing Office. That number has gone down since the first day of school when several dozens of students showed up to the offices, which tend to be busy at the start of each year. At the first of the month, there were reportedly about 150 students flooding the offices, though that figure could not be confirmed. The housing offices provide an informal process for assisting students who are looking for residences through an online database that operates similar to Craigslist.
UCSB spokesperson Allena Baker said they’ve never seen the vacancy rate so low — 0.6 percent. In past years, the vacancy rate has hovered around 8 percent. More continuing students left finding a place until the last minute this year, Baker added, and the housing office does not track the availability of beds or the number of students who are looking on a year-to-year basis. It’s unclear if the freshman class is larger this year, because the total figure will not be finalized until next week, but UCSB spokesperson George Foulsham specified enrolled freshmen live in residence halls and would not impact housing.