Report: Davis, UC Davis Add Housing for Nearly 7,000 Over 6 Years

An exterior view of Orchard Park Redevelopment Project
The Orchard Park Redevelopment Project at UC Davis is scheduled to open in late summer 2023 with apartments for approximately 1,486 students with families, graduate students and undergraduate students. (Liam Peck/UC Davis)

Housing developed within the City of Davis and on the UC Davis campus over the last six years added accommodation for almost 7,000 more residents by fall 2022, according to a new report.

The Joint Housing Report from UC Davis, Davis and Yolo County was released today (May 16).

The report’s updates are intended as an opportunity for Davis and the university to consider additional policy options, explore collaborative opportunities and jointly respond to continued housing challenges and opportunities.

In the report’s message to community members, leaders from the university, city and county highlighted the need to provide more housing in the area. “For our communities to prosper, our collective dedication is focused on expanding the availability of housing in the region, both market-rate and affordable housing.”

The message is signed by UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May, City of Davis Mayor Will Arnold and Yolo County District 2 Supervisor Lucas Frerichs.

The report estimates that in 2022-23, Davis housed approximately 67,000 individuals and the university over 13,600 students — for a total of 81,000 people.

Six new housing projects would add nearly 2,800 beds to the university campus by 2030.

Residential projects pending or under construction in the city include 2,150 units (including single-family homes, townhomes and apartments) with about 3,460 beds or bedrooms.

This housing report is the second published by the university, city and county and stems from their 2018 Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, on partnership and growth.

UC Davis housing

The report notes that UC Davis is on track to meet or exceed the MOU’s target for the university to have 15,000 beds by fall 2023. With the late summer opening of the Orchard Park Redevelopment Project and its apartments for approximately 1,486 students with families, graduate students and undergraduate students, it is estimated that more than 40% of UC Davis enrolled students based in Davis would have access to campus housing.

UC Davis has also exceeded an MOU milestone to house 100% of the enrollment growth on campus since the campus Long Range Development Plan’s base year of 2016-17. Since then, 3,790 more students are living on campus — nearly 130% of the actual enrollment growth to date of 2,939.

Also in the report:

  • Results from an annual Apartment Vacancy and Rental Rate Survey show low vacancy rates among large apartment complexes in Davis, most recently 0.2% for apartments rented by the unit and 1% for those rented by the bed.
  • A section on affordability by design notes a 2018 study showing that structures of three to five floors offer the lowest rents and a better quality of life for residents, while taller structures trigger more restrictive code requirements and higher labor costs.
  • Through its Basic Needs Initiative, the university has enhanced housing assistance, including its Need-Based Rent Subsidy program, starting its fourth year in fall 2023.

City of Davis

The report indicates that housing prices in Davis are generally higher than in the rest of the county. According to the 2013-2021 Housing Element, annual household incomes must generally exceed $100,000 to afford to buy a home in Davis.

Housing costs are considered excessive when more than 30% of the monthly household income, and data shows 10.5% of owner households in Davis experience excessive housing cost burdens and another 6.5% experience severe housing cost burdens.

Renters are more impacted by Davis’ housing costs. Nearly 17% experience excessive housing cost burdens, and an additional 39.4% experience severe housing cost burdens. The burdens disproportionately affect low- and very low-income households and those with families.

The report highlights the ongoing work of Davis’ Rental Resources Program, established in 2017 as a one-stop shop for rental registration, education and inspection. Through the program, the city is working to abate nuisances and gain compliance with state and local laws related to rental properties.

More about the report

The report includes information on recently completed and planned housing projects in the city and on the university campus. The update from Davis notes that recently completed housing developments oriented toward students include Sterling 5th Street Apartments, Davis Live Apartments and Lincoln 40 Apartments.

The first housing report was published in October 2019, and then suspended during the first two years of the pandemic. In the most recent report, leaders noted future reports would include details about emerging housing projects, issues that need more attention, demographic changes and new policy ideas.

“We look forward to strengthening our collaborative partnerships, engaging community member in discussions, and demonstrating our steadfast commitment to addressing the need for more housing in our shared community,” the three leaders added in the report’s message.

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