The College Creek apartments on the Cal Poly Humboldt campus would be reserved for students transferring from a different university next fall, according to a recent post on the Cal Poly Humboldt housing website. Photo: Andrew Goff.

Could Cal Poly Humboldt evict more than a thousand of its current dorm residents next school year?

That’s the implication of a recent post on the website of Cal Poly Humboldt’s housing department, and it has current dorm residents in a bit of a panic. In the post, the housing department notes that in the fall of 2023, all of the college’s traditional, on-site student housing will be reserved for freshmen and new students transferring from other universities.

Second-year students or beyond – in other words, everyone living in the dorms now – would be mostly on their own. The post originally said that it would have almost 90 beds for second-years available at the Budget Inn, in the Valley West area. It has since added the Motel 6 and the Super 8 motels, both also in Valley West, to that list, for a total of about 347 beds “to call home,” as the university puts it.

The housing post adds that it is trying to add 1,000 beds in total before the start of the fall semester, but it seems that there will be hundreds of newly homeless students looking for places to live next semester.

Many of those students are a little bit panicked right now, and they’ve organized a protest at the Cal Poly Humboldt quad that will take place Wednesday, starting at 11 a.m. One student lets us know that there will be a planning meeting for that protest in the same place tonight at 7 p.m.

“The situation with housing that is going on in the school is absolutely ridiculous…” said one student who left a voicemail on the Outpost’s phone. “A lot of people are talking about dropping out and leaving which is going to make the situation even worse.”

“As an alumni and father of a current CPH student, I find this action deplorable,” wrote one commenter on a Reddit thread devoted to the topic. “Student housing is a major contributor to my daughter’s experience and success at CPH. This kind of policy should be implemented in a multi-year phase-out, not as a surprise announcement (quietly posted over the weekend on top of everything else).”

Arcata’s derelict Craftsman Mall site, future home of a nearly 1,000-bed, Cal Poly Humboldt-run housing facility. Photo: Andrew Goff.

Despite Cal Poly Humboldt not meeting its enrollment targets this year, Arcata is currently on a building spree in the expectation that the Cal Poly transformation is going to spur big growth in the town. Cal Poly Humboldt is developing the Craftsman Mall property up the street from campus to house 1,000 students. Developer Steve Strombeck is adding 100 units to his Westwood Garden Apartments project. And, of course, the city is working on the Gateway Area Plan, which — if it passes in its current form — would likely add thousands of units to the city’s housing stock over many years.

But few if any of these new units are expected to be online by the fall of next year, and that points to an acute housing crunch for students next year

David Loya, the city’s director of community development, told the Outpost this afternoon that so far as he is aware the university has not yet reached out to the city about the new policy. (We couldn’t reach city manager Karen Diemer to ask if she had received the news.) However, Loya said, temporary squeezes like this highlight the pressing need for more affordable housing in the area.

“There are systematic problems our communities need to address,” Loya said. “I think the reality is that we have these periodic reminders, but the housing crunch is real and pervasive.”

Cal Poly Humboldt issued a press release late this afternoon. Here it is:

Cal Poly Humboldt is experiencing unprecedented growth due to our strong academic programs as well as our polytechnic designation. We know that students and their families have concerns about the availability of quality, affordable housing during this time of growth. To help meet their needs, the University is providing other temporary housing options.

We are committed to offering priority housing at on-campus residence halls for all first-year students and accommodating as many transfer and returning students as we can in the next academic year. We know that while all students benefit from the opportunity to live on campus, it is of the utmost importance to those students newest to our campus to support their full transition to Cal Poly Humboldt.

To balance these needs and support our returning and transfer students, Cal Poly Humboldt is increasing our bridge housing options for Fall 2023 by adding approximately 1,000 beds. Our goal is to provide as many students as possible a safe and affordable housing option managed by the University.

At this time, we have arranged options that include the Comfort Inn, Motel 6, and Super 8 hotels near campus in Arcata. We are also working on additional options.

Cal Poly Humboldt is committed to sustaining a quality student experience throughout this time of growth and transition. One example of bridge housing is from this past Fall 2022, when upperclassmen had the opportunity to live at the Comfort Inn in Arcata. Surveys and conversation with current residents in our campus-managed off-site housing have shown their satisfaction with this option. Students have shared their appreciation of the convenience of the location, its strong connection with the community and local businesses, and the extra amenities, such as breakfast, cleaning service, and a grocery store within walking distance. Students enjoy these amenities as well as a reduced cost of housing (which will be $3,312 per semester for Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 semesters respectively).

All continuing students received a message today from Housing & Residence Life explaining their options and the housing application process and timeline. This web page was recently updated to help our students and their families better understand our process. More information will be shared regarding options and the included amenities in more detail. We will continue to update you as we finalize contractual agreements for additional spaces and services.

A 2019 Now This documentary on homelessness among students at Humboldt State, as it was then known.