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High housing costs in San Francisco; Free City becomes more of a necessity.

By Matthew Cardoza


     Over the past decade, housing in the Bay Area at large has skyrocketed in cost. Rent in San Francisco

alone has increased to an average of $4,400 a month per unit, and the Bay Area it’s up to $2,000 plus a

month, according to a February 2018 San Jose Mercury News article. The current Bay Area housing

market has had a negative effect on students of CCSF, with many being forced to commute to San

Francisco from far away parts of the Bay Area and California, and some even deciding to move to another

state. With the Free City program introduced back in 2017, we saw a resurgence of enrollment at City

College. Now, more than ever, San Francisco residents need Free City to help ease the burden of higher

cost of living in the city.


     College is a costly investment. Students attending colleges all over the country have to pay for tuition,

textbooks, dormitories, and other costs to attend the university of their choice, that add up. For

community college students in the Bay Area, it’s especially difficult to balance the cost of paying for college

and living in one of the most expensive cities in the country. Those young adults, who decide to leave their

parents house and live independently, face the sad reality of paying for high rent along with the rising

costs of college. It’s sickening having the fear that you may not be able to afford to live in the city in which

you were raised in. This fear has unfortunately come true for countless San Franciscans, many of whom

have deciding to leave the Bay Area altogether and go to other parts of the country to avoid the high costs

of living.


     The Free City College program was introduced back in 2017, when former San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

made City College free to all low-income San Francisco residents who have lived in the city for a minimum

of a year paid through properties taxes of buildings sold for over five million dollars. The program covers

enrollment fees per unit, which was around $46. This has allowed the enrollment of City College to climb

up to around 26,065 students in the spring semester of 2018— 4,000 more than the previous year.


     I see this a major step forward for City College, who in recent years has had a slew of enrollment issues,

caused by the 2013 accreditation crisis that almost lead to the school being shut down.


     However, no system is perfect, and with Free City being introduced comes the question of how exactly it

will continue long-term? While we have had short-term success with the program regarding enrollment,

there is no guarantee that this trend will last into the future, and if it does will the cost of those enrolled

exceed the revenue generated?


     Even though the college is having to deal with tough budgetary issues, I ultimately think that City

College should keep the Free City program alive, because it gives students a chance to advance their higher

learning, which enriches the community and allows students to directly give back to the city in which they


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