UC Merced and Merced College will jointly build a 488-bed student housing project for community college and transfer students. The California Legislature gave final approval to the $100 million funding mechanism for the project on Wednesday, Aug. 30.
The Promise Housing facility will offer rooms on UC Merced's campus to income-qualified community college students who have met the academic requirements of the Merced Promise transfer agreement. That agreement, easing students' transition from associate to bachelor's degrees while remaining in Merced, was signed in November 2020. The Merced Promise is intended to encourage the most promising and in-need student populations in the Central Valley to transform their lives and improving the region's economy, through the pursuit of higher education.
The housing development arose from conversations between Merced College President Chris Vitelli and UC Merced Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz about addressing an acute housing shortage that particularly affects low-income residents in the region. The Merced Promise project will offer students extremely affordable housing while attending college and remove them from competition for market-rate housing in the region.
"This significant and sorely needed project could not have happened without the leadership of Senator Anna Caballero and Assembly Member Esmeralda Soria and the firm partnership we have built with President Vitelli and Merced College," Muñoz said. "Our institutions are deeply committed to improving lives for our students and our community, and this is another manifestation of that mission."
"We are grateful to the California Legislature for approving this important project, and to UC Merced and Chancellor Muñoz for being such willing and able partners in supporting and educating our transfer students," Vitelli said. "This joint affordable housing project will be a game-changer for our historically underserved region, removing barriers for our students seeking to transfer to UC Merced and providing them with an opportunity to complete their transfer degree at Merced College while fully engaging in campus life at UC Merced."
Current plans call for a mix of two-bedroom suites and two- and four-bedroom apartments, along with a shaded courtyard including outdoor meeting and assembly space. It will be constructed on what is currently a parking area to the south of UC Merced's 2020 Project expansion.