Goodbye, Childhood Homes, Goodbye, Family Housing

Editor’s Note: Punctuation in the following letter to the editor has been lightly edited to adhere to AP style guidelines.

Heather Andrews-Horton, UCR Alumni, 2014

hrahorton@icloud.com

It is with great sorrow that I have learned of the scheduled demolition of Canyon Crest Family Housing at UCR. This place holds special meaning to me and thousands of other families who have been lucky enough to live there over the past decades. It is part of an important diaspora of students and their families around the country and around the globe. I am further saddened by the lack of remorse UCR administration is showing in this decision and the inadequate new housing arrangements facing students upon closure of the current family housing neighborhood.

By demolishing the neighborhood and relocating families to apartments, UCR is losing what was special about UCR’s family housing: A community of students with similar goals, the assuredness that comes with actually having a “house”, the comfort of knowing your children had a safe place designated for them and any incredible amount of green space that provide a neighborhood feel. These qualities, along with the affordability of UCR family housing were, in fact, the sole reasons why I chose UCR for graduate study in 2012.

My son learned to walk there, had his first and second birthdays there and found out he would be a big brother there. Like thousands of other children, his childhood home and childhood neighborhood is going to be destroyed, replaced and changed beyond recognition. Given this obvious reality, I am surprised that there is no tone of remorse whatsoever accompanying UCR’s announcements for the plans.

I appreciate the fact that the homes are old and in need of much repair, but if the quality of life of students with families was a priority at all, it seems that UCR would build new houses in the existing space, or even on half of the existing space. Why not build duplexes or townhomes for these families so that they can continue to thrive? I already know the answer: Money, progress, development, and none of these answers impress me. If UCR values the diversity of its students as it claims to, a better balance could have been struck between the expansion of the university and the needs of its students with families. I am thoroughly disappointed in the university and positive that the quality of life and academic progress of its students with families will decline after the scheduled closure of family housing in the summer of 2017.

Family housing has been more than a temporary residence for thousands of families over the years. These are houses where people bring their babies home from the hospital, celebrate graduations and finish dissertations. These are green spaces where families celebrate and grow. The proposed place of relocation for the families, Oban apartments, does not offer the same sense of community or space to bond as families with common goals and challenges. It will not offer the acres of safe outdoor space where children can play and walk while their parents dedicate themselves to their work, assured of their children’s’ well-being. My family and the families we met while living in family housing could never have made it through their undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral programs if not for the living environment and social network provided by family housing.

If UCR administration will not relent in this insensitive plan (and it seems clear they will not) they at least owe these families a morsel of remorse and to control their expenses in their new residences. Give them the financial security that the current family housing provides so that they don’t have to choose between time with their families and time with their studies. You are going to capitalize on the demolition of their family homes, isn’t that bad enough?

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