UC Merced officials are optimistic that hundreds of their students facing an unanticipated local housing shortage will have a place to rest their heads this week and throughout the opening of the fall semester.
The state fire marshal has agreed to allow additional beds to on-campus housing — up to the maximum capacity — along with some added safety precautions. The university has also secured numerous local hotel rooms, as did the developers behind the Merced Station apartment project.
“We are sorry for the ongoing housing difficulty many of our students face, caused primarily by the sudden unavailability of units in the local development Merced Station,” UC officials said in a message to students. “Staff have been working around the clock to rapidly develop options due to this situation, which has been largely outside the control of the university. … Our goal now and always is to ensure that all of our students can focus on your education without extraneous anxiety.”
Last week, news began to spread that the Merced Station apartment construction on Yosemite Avenue near Lake Road in North Merced was delayed — adding to an already tight local housing market for all Merced residents.
UC Merced is not affiliated with Merced Station, but after conducting a student poll, campus officials learned that about 1,000 UC students were seeking a place to live, and more than 500 of them had already signed leases with the off-campus development.
Reaction was swift, and UC Merced immediately sought to delay the start of in-person instruction until Aug. 30, with the first several days of school conducted online.The official start of fall instruction, August 25, is expected to remain the same.
Meanwhile, Merced city officials and developers are saying the currently unfinished apartment spaces at the Merced Station will be “move-in” ready for the first 250 or so students by mid-September.
Before construction began, Merced Station was billed as “the first significant off-campus housing” for UC Merced, and a “timely development that will satisfy some of the immediate UC housing needs.”
The 17-acre property along Yosemite Avenue was planned for 15 residential buildings, including 270 units and a total of 885 beds.
The land is located about two miles from the university, which makes it the closest off-campus, apartment complex option for students. Rents are said to be competitive with the local market and UC campus housing.