Reconstruct Humboldt’s housing problem

Sabriyya Ghanizada, EcoNews intern

There is a housing crisis in California and Humboldt County (HumCo) is no exception. With Cal Poly Humboldt prospecting to double its listing, this will impact an already scarce market. Housing at HumCo greatly affects students and faculty at Cal Poly Humboldt, with many experiencing difficulty in finding adequate housing. One of the reasons is that there is not enough supply to meet the demand. To mitigate this, Cal Poly, local government, and community members are each working as stakeholders in the effort to create solutions that will cultivate sustainable homes built with eco-conscious ideals.

The affected community works proactively

“Searching for housing in Humboldt County is difficult,” Cal Poly Humboldt Professor Ramona Bell recalled during a spring semester Senate meeting at Cal Poly Humboldt.

After taking a sabbatical, Bell returned to Humboldt to see many changes in the process.

“I’ve had students complain about the process, the tenancy agreement, and what it takes to get a house,” Bell said.

This process may include a photo, credit score, and co-signer, in addition to lengthy requests. Some students live in overpriced Airbnbs or illegally sublet. Some live off their cars. Students and teachers scour local Craigslist listings, contacting them immediately to find that their furry friends aren’t allowed or had a “bad reference.”

It is an open secret that there are inequitable housing practices throughout the county. Chant’e Catt, off-campus housing coordinator for Cal Poly Humboldt, who herself was homeless for an entire semester, organized a resource created by the Humboldt Tenant Landlord Cooperation (HTLC) to help bridge the gap between owners and tenants.

“Landlords were tired of feeling like social workers for their tenants, especially students, so HTLC is trying to fill a gap that we found the family unit seems to ignore and the education system has also failed to provide. lots of resources on… that’s how a good neighbor is, how to be a tenant and how to be a community member,” Catt said.

You can do your part to be a fair landlord, landlord and tenant by attending this course and proudly displaying your certificate. To access the course, go to:

Servitas Fuels Plans with the City of Eureka and Cal Poly Humboldt

Garrett Scharton, vice president of development at Servitas, said there have been good conversations with Cal Poly Humboldt leaders in the development of student housing within the EaRTH Center, an intermodal living space, which fostered trust between the groups. The EaRTH Center (which will be funded by a grant pending approval in late May/early June) will consist of 31 apartments to be divided into student accommodation, workforce accommodation and doctors and nurses accommodation in the Old Town of ‘Eureka. The ground floor will house an intermodal transport hub, a pharmacy, a possible café and a community daycare centre.

Cal Poly Humboldt students who live in the proposed EaRTH center can also expect the same rent as those who live on campus. Connie Stewart, who spoke at the Eureka City Council meeting on behalf of Cal Poly Humboldt in support of the EaRTH Center, is thrilled that Servitas intentionally thought of bringing a mix of people into the building “instead of ‘an upscale restaurant or a formula coffee shop.’ Stewart sees the daycare as another way for Servitas to incorporate community needs into the space.

“A good first step is to recognize that no project will solve a problem on its own; they can all just help and contribute to a solution,” Scharton said.

One solution cited by Scharton is the restriction of acts, which could impose requirements to the benefit of the EaRTH center. The city of Eureka could require act restrictions to focus on community needs, such as prioritizing teachers, students and healthcare workers.

The EaRTH Center will have a smaller footprint due to infill. By reusing existing infrastructure and existing water and utility lines for construction, the center will be able to accommodate more people. Jackson Ferguson, the principal architect of the EaRTH Center, reiterated the mitigation of miles traveled by car due to location and intermodal capabilities.

“… Putting housing where there is currently parking, now people there have the option. ‘Do I park my car or do I walk to work?’ “said Ferguson.

Scharton said he was open to communication with locals and advised them to contact him. “We want to make sure we’re designing something that responds to the community,” Scharton said.

Catt was baffled that she hadn’t heard much about the EaRTH center until it recently became a buzzword. She wasn’t sure where the awareness was or how to participate in the decision-making process. “HTLC tells the story of the community and educates about the issues in our area so that we can have better communication about solving some of our housing climate issues,” Catt said. “I believe this would provide an opportunity for collaboration between tenants, residents and landlords in the neighborhood. It makes me wonder where the power is as they create this.

Cal Poly Humboldt finds its place

There is a gap between the University and the surrounding communities. Michael Fisher, associate vice president of facilities management at Cal Poly Humboldt, said Cal Poly Humboldt is just one piece and hopes to fit into the puzzle with other members of the community to come together to see the work of the polytechnic prospectus.

There are currently enough beds for 2,069 students on campus. With the $433 million set aside for capital, an additional 2,000 beds will be made available as part of a full build. The controversial Craftsmans Mall, which will be student accommodation “across the freeway”, is expected to be completed by the end of 2024 and provide 800 beds for students. It will also include study areas and a small convenience store. Parking at the Craftsman mall is still considered a “concept” according to Fisher.

Two projects will follow soon after, creating 400 beds in 2026 and another 650 in 2026 for a cumulative total of 3,919 beds. Fisher is betting on more student housing to ease larger housing issues in the county.

“The accommodation we are going to introduce is certainly suitable for our students, students looking for a room in a house might find it better on student accommodation,” Fisher said.

If more students choose to live on campus, it can make room throughout the county for non-student housing.

“Now a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom is available due to student housing,” Fisher said. “With this, our workforce will grow, health care will expand. General amenities will need to grow and this is just a regional issue that we are happy to be a part of and ready to help lead.

Some of these amenities include the Hatchet House in Arcata which Fisher owns and runs with his wife. Hosting engaging events, affordable housing, and continuing to foster relationships among students will help create a migration chain through HumCo that works to find solutions to the housing crisis.

Cal Poly Humboldt plans to create a total of 6,000 beds by 2028. Half on campus and the other half in Arcata, Eureka, and Mckinleyville. You can view Cal Poly Humboldt’s infrastructure plan here:

Sabriyya Ghanizada is an intern at EcoNews for the spring. A journalism major at Cal Poly Humboldt, Sabriyya has written articles for each of the student-run publications: The Lumberjack, El Lenador, and Osprey Magazine. Currently, she is the Editor-in-Chief of Osprey and leads a humble team of nine. Sabriyya currently has her sights set on graduation in the spring of 2022.

Comments are closed.