Study Shows 18% of UC Davis Students Face Housing Insecurity or Homelessness

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

Approximately 2,400 UC Davis students—7 percent of the student body—experienced homelessness for some period last year. Nearly 700 slept in cars or places not designed as housing.

By Vanguard Administrator | June 12, 2019 | Originally Posted on the Davis Vanguard

(From Press Release). Today the UC Davis Student Housing Affordability and Insecurity Report for 2017-18 quantified the anecdotes about student overcrowding and housing insecurity in Davis. In the preceding academic year, an estimated 15 percent of students (over 5,000 individuals) experienced some form of housing insecurity, such as not being able to pay rent, moving two or more times a year, or doubling up in a bedroom without a lease agreement. An estimated 7 percent (over 2,400 individuals) reported some form of temporary or sustained homelessness such as being thrown out, being evicted, or having couch surfed. Nearly 700 reported sleeping in a car or some other place not designed as shelter. This problem is more pronounced in later undergraduate cohorts, with nearly 25% of UC Davis seniors reporting either housing insecurity or some form of homelessness.

“The survey, when considered in light of the recent work of the Chancellor’s Affordable Student Housing Task Force, should prove very useful for directing interventions,” said Robert Saper, the UC Davis doctoral candidate in geography who led the analysis. “Stakeholders can better understand the needs of those most impacted by the Davis housing crisis, especially juniors and seniors.”

The report, at long last, puts numbers behind the new normal of crowded apartments. In the private Davis market, undergraduates live 1.62 per bedroom (three-bedroom apartments house five students, on

average) while the general population occupies rental housing at a rate of only 1.22 persons per bedroom. The data also indicate that overcrowded apartments strongly outweigh the number of overcrowded single-family houses (a 3-to-1 ratio or greater). The new data are consistent with other reports indicating short supply, such as BAE’s Apartment Vacancy and Rental Rate Survey, which shows that, at any given time, only 0.2% of apartments are available in the City of Davis.

“An emergency situation forced me to leave my Davis apartment unexpectedly, and the lack of available housing left me unable to find a room to move into,” explained Nichole Holm, UC Davis doctoral candidate in Integrative Genetics and Genomics. “I spent two months staying at friends’ homes and sleeping on floors of spare rooms as I applied to over 100 rentals. When I was days away from living in my car, I finally secured a room, far above my graduate student budget.”

“Students are constantly pushing for more affordable places to live; however, we found that on-campus housing was the least affordable,” said UC Davis doctoral candidate Don Gibson, who chaired the student-led ASUCD-GSA Housing Task Force that designed the survey. “The university defines affordable housing units as those costing 85% of the average market rent or less, but the survey shows that only about 15% of on-campus units would qualify, while 27% in the City of Davis fall under that metric.”

The full survey report can be found at

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