Annual Report of the Housing Policy Committee, 2009-2010

The Housing Policy Committee met monthly during the academic year to address the following issues:

  1. Budget review of Columbia University Facilities. As has been the case repeatedly over the life of the Housing Policy Committee, the University budget cycle has remained a chronic barrier to the committee’s responsibility to provide a timely review in advance of the fiscal year in which the budget is implemented. The committee began this year with a review of the current budget Fy2009/2010 as this had not taken place during the previous year. And as we are at the end of the year, once again Columbia University Facilities has not provided a budget for our review. The committee does not believe that Columbia University Facilities is purposefully impeding the work of the committee. Rather, it appears that the problem is based on a misfit between the Senate calendar and the Facilities budget calendar.  Discussion of this problem is ongoing within the committee. We look forward to receiving a budget report from Columbia University Facilities during the early months of the next Senate session.
  2. We met with Provost Steele on November 23 to discuss the status of faculty housing policy and to elicit his priorities. The provost expressed his intent to conduct a review of University housing policies although he was clear that this would not take place during the current academic year. During the meeting, discussion focused on the need to develop a more comprehensive set of housing policies that serve the interests of the faculty as well as the University. Currently housing policy focuses on housing stock owned by the University whereas between 40-50% of eligible faculty do not reside in University owned housing. Moreover, as University growth continues to fuel demand for faculty housing, it is unlikely that building and purchasing additional apartments is a sustainable solution. In the long run, the University will be best served by housing policies that facilitate faculty entry into either the private housing market or University-owned housing.
  3. The Housing Policy Committee collaborated with the Budget committee on the review of the housing budget structure.  The committees are examining the question of how the housing stock can continue to finance itself through rents and debt without structural contributions from other sources within the University. Currently, non-rental income is received from the central university on an ad-hoc basis and from the separate schools based on their proportion of utilization over their utilization during the 1999 base year. This discussion is directly in relation to the Senate Resolution to Develop a Policy for Allocation of Rental Income adopted on  February 1, 2008. This issue has not yet been resolved and work between the committees is ongoing.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the Housing Policy Committee,

Craig Schwalbe, Chair
Social Work, Nontenured
April 30, 2010