UCSF Acquires 3 New Properties for Potential Student Housing

By Kristen Bole

UC San Francisco has closed escrow on the purchase of three properties from a single owner near its Mission Bay campus as a potential site to build critically needed, affordable housing for graduate students and trainees. The parcels at 566, 590 and 600 Minnesota Street, in the Dogpatch neighborhood, currently contain aging warehouses that the university is proposing to replace.

The Oct. 19 purchase comes at a time of skyrocketing housing costs in San Francisco, in which median rents have risen 47 percent in the last five years alone, according to external real estate indexes. The resulting rental prices are among the highest nationwide, making it difficult for graduate and professional students, as well as postdoctoral scholars, fellows and clinical residents, to afford to attend UCSF.

UCSF is responding by evaluating all options for creating new housing that both adds to the university’s overall affordable housing options and simultaneously lessens the UCSF community’s reliance on the city’s general rental market.

Affordable Housing at UCSF

Read the latest updates about UCSF's efforts to ensure that it remains an affordable place to work and learn.

“San Francisco has always been an expensive place for our students to live, but more and more are giving up their first choice for other institutions they can better afford,” said Dan Lowenstein, MD, UCSF executive vice chancellor and provost, who is leading UCSF’s efforts to address the housing issue. “Our goal, as a top-ranked health sciences university and a major economic engine for the city, is to find innovative ways to help them join us.”

While UCSF offers student/trainee housing on its Parnassus and Mission Bay campus sites, a recent study showed that it only meets about 32 percent of the total need. By identifying potential new housing locations near the campus, the university aims to both decrease traffic as those students commute to their labs or the hospital and do its part to reduce the competition for housing in local neighborhoods.

“This is an issue that is affecting San Francisco residents throughout the city, as well as the colleges that call this city home,” Lowenstein said. “Our hope is that this will help reduce the stress on housing in our immediate community.”

Earlier this year, UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood appointed a work group led by Lowenstein and Clare Shinnerl, associate vice chancellor of Campus Life Services, to explore innovative solutions to address its housing shortage. The cross-campus team is looking at a variety of options, including renovations and construction on its current sites, newly acquired land and potential collaborations with other institutions.

UCSF will work closely with neighbors in the Dogpatch area and follow standard protocols for public engagement to assess potential plans for the property. While UCSF intends to designate the site as a preferred site for environmental review of additional student/training housing, no final decisions will be made regarding use of the site until UCSF has completed environmental review under CEQA.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to transforming health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. Founded in 1864 as a medical college, UCSF now includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with world-renowned programs in the biological sciences, a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and top-tier hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals.