The UC Santa Cruz Student Union Assembly (SUA) is casting a glimmer of hope on the housing crisis looming over Santa Cruz. On April 4, SUA announced it secured about half a million dollars to help students combat issues with on- and off-campus housing — such as discrimination and a growing cost of living. 

At the beginning of the school year, the UC Office of the President (UCOP) allocated $2.7 million to UCSC to better fund on-campus issues. The UCOP prompted the administration to include student voices in proposals to obtain the  money.

The UCOP announced the funds on Oct. 3 to campus administration. However, administration did not inform SUA until a month before the Jan. 11 proposal due date. SUA President Ayo Banjo voiced his frustration with the timeline. 

“The administration locked SUA out of the whole decision making,” Banjo said. “It was mainly because the process was not explained well. It was fast-tracked.”

Banjo and SUA Vice President of Internal Affairs Citlalli Aquino wrote proposals on behalf of SUA and the student body. The UCOP accepted the proposals, granting SUA about half a million dollars.

Using about $200,000, SUA will create basic needs scholarships, an emergency housing program and a basic needs hub. The emergency housing program will help students seeking financial assistance with food and housing insecurity. The basic needs hub will benefit students transitioning to off-campus housing with advising, education on tenant rights and connections to resources.

With authorship assistance from Aquino, SUA secured an additional $250,000 that will be implemented to hire a full-time lawyer. The lawyer will provide free legal services to protect UCSC student tenants’ rights against eviction and other housing issues. 

The proposal funds will allow SUA to execute these operations for the next two years, beginning in fall 2019.

“We decided not to take no for an answer,” Banjo said, reflecting on SUA’s success. “Different parts of our community tell us ‘no you can’t do that’ and ‘no that’s impossible’ […] When it comes to fighting for students and fighting for student agency, there’s no such thing as no.”