Current and upcoming graduates fearful of losing homes


Jesse Garcia poses for a photo in his University Park North apartment before going to a mandatory housing meeting on Feb 9, 2015. He will be forced to move when he graduates in the Fall.

After living in University Park North for two years, SF State student Jesse Garcia has established himself socially and professionally and considers the area his home, but as a soon-to-be graduate, he fears his residency is threatened by a recent change in housing policy.

In a series of meetings beginning Feb. 4, residents of UPN and University Park South learned that students will not be permitted to live in their apartments once they graduate. According to Student Housing Program Director Philippe Cumia, these changes are an effort to provide more housing for students and will take effect once the residents’ leases expire.

“Not only do you have to worry about graduating but you have to find a place lined up immediately after you graduate,” Garcia said.

Before the policy change, lease applications were available for students, staff and alumni. The new application leaves out the alumni option and now offers options for students, staff and those “not affiliated with the school”.

University Property Management presented residents with two programs, one that makes a sole occupant the primary leaseholder and another that grants each resident an individual lease, called the bed space program. The primary licensee program delegates responsibility for all financial obligations to a single resident.

 Garcia reads a flyer demanding that he attend a housing meeting regarding policy changes to University Park North and South on Feb 9, 2015. (Photo by Drake Newkirk)
[/media-credit] Garcia reads a flyer demanding that he attend a housing meeting regarding policy changes to University Park North and South on Feb 9, 2015.

Individual leases don’t allow residents to choose their roommates and is the more expensive option. The individual leases are limited, so UPM will enter applicants in a lottery system to determine who earns residency.

Garcia is concerned with the primary licensee program because it leaves only one tenant in charge of finances, which he said can cause tension between housemates.

Balerio Reyes, Garcia’s roommate, planned on staying in UPN after he graduated. He hoped to take advantage of the cheap rent that UPN has to offer, but said he will have to change plans after hearing UPM’s announcements.

“When I moved in about three years ago the apartment was under contract since 2010,” Reyes said. “My roommates have since then moved out and I stayed. That’s when I was like I’ll stay here when I graduate and take advantage of the cheap rent.”

Residents like Reyes are not positive that they will be able to find alternative living options as affordable as UPN and UPS.

“December is typically when I renew my lease and that’s when I saw that ‘alumni’ was no longer an option on the leasing application,” SF State alumnus Brandon Lee Buchanan said. “I asked why and they said I wouldn’t be able to return at the end of my lease.”

Buchanan said he was frustrated but not surprised by the changes in housing. He said that before he learned of the new policy he was hoping to stay in UPN for at least another year.

Cumia said that beginning in the fall there will be more bed space units added as well as a graduate floor in UPN that will provide programs for those having trouble finding new places to live.

Residents have until Feb. 16 to decide if they want to apply for an individual or primary lease. In order to maintain University housing, undergrads will need to be enrolled in at least 12 units while graduate students must be taking at least nine.

“I’m considering bed space because I might be able to get my own room for a cheaper amount,” said UPN resident Devika Botejue. “But it’s still the lottery system so there’s the risk of not having a house.”