Demolition begins to make way for the first affordable student housing downtown
Demolition began Tuesday on a city block downtown that is planned to become affordable housing for college students.
The long-term project by the San Diego Community College District is a response to the housing crisis.
A bulldozer started breaking apart the former City College child development center at the corner of 16th and B streets downtown. It is the first step to making way for the new construction of a seven-story and an eight-story building a block from the campus.
Housing is one of the biggest expenses for students trying to attend classes and survive.
Diego Bethea is the City College Student Government president. He said 20% of students report being unhoused.
“They go to the street to sleep (and) set up their tent. Then they knock it down, bring it with them, take a shower at the City College Basic Needs Center and then go to class. (After that) rinse, wash and repeat," Bethea said.
“More than 60% of our students have reported problems finding housing," said Greg Smith, the acting chancellor of the San Diego Community College District, which is moving ahead with plans to develop, design, construct and operate 800 units of living space that would rent well below market value.
The project is supported by the state legislature, which approved $75 million in funding to kick-start the plan for the high-rise lower-cost living.
“In order to get $75 million for San Diego City College to start this project, we had to demonstrate that we can accomplish affordable housing that’s going to reach our most-at-need students," Smith said.
According to administration officials, that includes students who are low-income, veterans or former foster youth.
But they will have to wait until the fall of 2028, the expected opening date for the affordable housing.
Student reporter Keila Menjivar was on-site for the school newspaper to document the historic demolition.
“It’s no secret that the cost of living is incredibly high here in San Diego. So I, myself, as a student, am constantly having to balance and budget for school and work so I can live here," Menjivar said.
The closed child development center being demolished Tuesday was moved and reopened in a new facility on campus in 2022.