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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Representatives from Lake Tahoe Community College, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, and elected officials gathered on LTCC’s campus with students, community members, and college supporters this week for an official groundbreaking ceremony marking the beginning of the college’s on-campus student housing construction project.
Addressing the crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony, LTCC Superintendent/President Jeff DeFranco said, “This is going to fundamentally transform this campus, and as a result, continue to transform this community. The state of California and specifically the Lake Tahoe Basin has been facing a significant housing crisis. For our students, this challenge is even more acute. Stable and affordable housing is key to supporting full-time enrollment, and research shows that it leads to higher GPAs and on-time completion. Although this is a housing project, it’s really a student success project.”
DeFranco began the ceremony with a land acknowledgment.
“As we come together as an educational community in Lake Tahoe we acknowledge we are gathered on historical lands of its original inhabitants, the Wa She Shu Tribe,” DeFranco said. “It is especially fitting to have that land acknowledgement here today as we break ground for housing, because there’s been many generations, beyond time to count that have lived on these lands.”
LTCC Student Trustee Daniella Valdivia spoke about the realities of the housing crisis for students, and how this housing project directly addresses them.
“Bills, food, gas and rent all add up,” said Valdivia. “Community college students are among the most vulnerable in California’s higher education system, and they have fewer opportunities for financial aid, student housing, and other benefits. This project, by providing 100 beds for low-income and full-time students, will go a long way to ensure that students can enroll and complete their education at LTCC.”
California State Senator for District 4 Marie Alvarado-Gil spoke about her own experiences as the first woman in her family to attend college, and the economic barriers she faced while in her third year at UC Davis.
“I couldn’t pay for my housing. I didn’t have that backbone, and I dropped out of college. So my dream was left there at a really young age. I started all over again, and where I found that canopy of support and help was at my local community college,” said Alvarado-Gil.
California Community Colleges’ new chancellor, Dr. Sonya Christian, described the current housing situation in stark terms and made a clear call for action to bring even more housing to community college campuses, addressing the wider problem by supporting the most vulnerable citizens first.
“This crisis affects colleges and communities across the state,” said Dr. Christian. “It is affecting our students more than ever, pushing them to working multiple jobs, sleeping in their cars, and all too often, dropping out of school entirely. Tens of thousands of our students may not know where they’re sleeping tonight. Without a stable living environment, students can’t focus on their education and it forces them to make difficult decisions about their educational goals. We cannot continue to fail them. Our time is now to address the housing crisis.”
Thanks to a successful construction bidding process and with a building contract now in place, LTCC is moving ahead quickly with on-campus housing. Though construction delays are a reality statewide, LTCC was able to move from receipt of nearly $40 million in state funding for the project to start of site development in under one year.
Broad support for an expedited approval timeline from various partners allowed for site development of LTCC’s residential living project on the south side of campus to begin in May 2023. This week’s groundbreaking officially launches the building construction phase and ensures students can move in by July 2025.
“Given the unique building conditions and requirements in the Tahoe Basin as well as the stringent
consideration of the Division of State Architect (DSA) for public buildings, this timeline is pretty much unheard of and quite remarkable,” said President DeFranco. “Getting the project from funding to groundbreaking this quickly is only possible thanks to our strong relationships with the Tahoe Regional Planning Association, the City of South Lake Tahoe, and the State Architect office.”
When the doors open in July 2025, this housing will serve full-time, income-qualifying California resident students. It will provide 100 beds in either double or single-room setups, with easy access to public transportation at LTCC’s Mobility Hub and connecting bicycle and pedestrian paths heading both north and south of campus.
The facility will be approximately 32,000 sq. ft. with separate living units, shared community spaces, and close proximity to the college’s Student Center, which houses a commercial-grade kitchen and a large, open space for sit-down dining service. All bedrooms will also include a small area with a refrigerator, microwave, countertop, cupboard, and sink, allowing students to prepare meals in their rooms. Through the support of a capital campaign organized by the El Dorado Community Foundation, the housing facility will also have a modern and well-equipped community kitchen for all residents.
LTCC established rental amounts to ensure that lower-income students can access this housing. Rental price per occupant for a double room is $500/month, and a single room is priced at $795/month. JK Architecture Engineering has been contracted as the design firm behind the project, and Creekside Commercial Builders Inc. is the construction company.
The college has been focused on finding the funding to bring residential living to campus for nearly a decade. Broad enthusiasm for the idea came out of a 2020 Visioning Session held at LTCC in 2013 that community, city, and organizational partners all attended. It was part of a broader attempt to imagine what LTCC’s future could be, and how that could connect to community and industry partner plans and hopes.
The crucial need for affordable housing in the Tahoe Basin was reinforced by the Tahoe Prosperity Center (TPC) and the Tahoe Chamber, in the South Shore Region Local Resident Housing Action Plan. Voter-approved Measure F funding and other local resources allowed the college to move forward with student housing feasibility studies, student demand surveys, and project planning.
These research and planning efforts bolstered LTCC’s housing grant application, which ultimately secured the project’s funding. LTCC originally applied for consideration for housing funding in October 2021, and was awarded with $39.3 million just seven months later thanks to the support of multiple community partners, the Chancellor’s Office, the California Legislature, and California Governor Gavin Newsom.
While this project supports the college by providing access to income-qualifying students so they can reach their educational goals, it also supports the wider community, and specifically those seeking affordable housing.
“In a time where there’s a significant demand for housing, it takes all of us moving forward together,” said City of South Lake Tahoe City Manager Joseph Irvin. “I commend LTCC’s vision and leadership to deliver this project for the South Shore community as it will help to open more housing inventory for those in search of clean and affordable housing.”
Additional information and updates about LTCC’s on-campus student housing project can be found at http://www.ltcc.edu/housing.
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