University Senate June 2002
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE
HOUSING POLICY COMMITTEE, 2001–2002
The committee discussed:
• rent increases and unit availability
• the various initiatives to create new housing for Columbia faculty
• the possibilities of expanding and improving housing for General Studies students
• a new system to make the Institutional Real Estate (IRE) office run more efficiently
• changing the Housing Policy Committee to a standing Senate committee
William Scott, Vice President for IRE, presented the 2002–2003 IRE operating budget. It provides for an across-the-board 4 percent rent increase (for students, researchers, faculty, staff, and retirees). Scott anticipates rent increases of 4 percent over the next four years, and 3 percent in the long run.
Currently, his office is focusing on renovating 1,000 apartments and the common areas (lobbies and hallways) of 60 buildings that are in bad shape.
The events of 9/11 resulted in a loss of rental income for IRE, because many students enrolled in the American Language Program didn’t show up. The University had to pay for the housing they were going to use at the 92nd Street Y.
Construction on the new building at 110th Street and Broadway that will include a school for the children of Columbia faculty, and housing for faculty, is proceeding. The building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2003.
Scott told the Committee that Columbia bought fifty-three apartments for faculty in the building on the southwest corner of 106th Street and Central Park West that is being renovated.
Other IRE acquisitions of housing: nine apartments in the Manhasset building on Broadway and 109th Street; a forty-six-unit building at 394 Washington Avenue; a building with sixteen units at 44 Morningside Drive.
A vacant lot between 109th and 110th Streets and Manhattan and Columbus Avenues could become a collaborative project, providing housing for both Columbia graduate and postdoc students as well as middle-income tenants.
IRE continues to consider developing housing north of 125th Street and near Lincoln Center.
General Studies dean Peter Awn met with the Committee and discussed the changing housing needs of GS students. He would like IRE to double the housing units available to his students, to 450 or 475 units. He also wants to create an identifiable space for GS students. Currently they’re dispersed among many buildings. Scott agreed to try to cluster housing, so more GS students can live together. It might be possible to dedicate an entire building to GS students.
Scott also determined that the IRE office would evaluate part-time GS students who become full-time as “new” students instead of continuing students—on a one-time basis, at the point when the students become full-time—so that they would be able to get into IRE housing.
Scott is having a new Web-based work order system installed in his department. It will help IRE more efficiently process the 100,000 work orders they deal with each year. The cost for setting up this system is $800,000.
The committee briefly considered a proposal that has also surfaced in the Structure and Operations and Executive Committees this year—to redesign Housing Policy, whose members are now appointed by the president, as a standing Senate committee. Worries about Columbia housing have gone through a cycle in the last two decades. The shortage of rental housing for Columbia tenants was acute in 1983, when the Senate established the committee. During the recession of the early 1990s, demand waned and a housing glut developed. As pressure on the housing supply resumed in the late 1990s, President Rupp relied on other committees to study the problem and formulate a response. The rationale for changing the committee’s mandate is that the committee would likely function better as a Senate-appointed group, more responsive to Senate concerns on urgent issues, than as a presidential committee for which the president has little use. Our committee took no action on this proposal, but members raised no objections to it.
Chair of the Housing Policy Committee