September 4, 2018

Owen Thomas: Students have common interest with low and middle income renters

Simply put, cost of living is making it nearly impossible for non-wealthy people to continue living in Santa Cruz, be they students, workers or the elderly. This struggle is not polarized between students and locals, as Primack characterized it, but between rich residents and poor residents. It just so happens that there are many poor students (contrary to popular belief), and many rich longtime residents, who either own rentals or have economic ties to real estate.

There are students fighting hard to change things both on campus and off campus. We don’t sympathize with the university, we don’t want it to swell its enrollment numbers without building accessible housing for its students anymore than longtime residents do. We are fully aware that passing Measure M and repealing Costa-Hawkins are not cure-alls to our housing woes, but rather steps toward halting the steep upward climb of rents in California so that poor, working class, and in Santa Cruz’ case, middle-class tenants can be secure in their communities.

Yes, students have a stake in this community, and vice versa. I feel like this isn’t a point worth arguing, it should be self evident. The rent of students is integral to the local economy. So, too is the labor of students working full time and part time to finance their education. Nowadays, the main factor that pushes graduated students out of Santa Cruz — the thing that keeps them from setting down roots and becoming the longtime residents that Primack believes should vote — is the double-pronged problem of limited local work opportunities and sky-high rents.

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