Cerritos College sets opening date for first-ever student housing

On+Feb.+19%2C+the+Board+of+Trustees+finalized+the+purchase+of+the+Barnwall+student+housing+units.+Dr.+Jose+Fierro+plans+to+have+the+property+open+to+the+students+by+April+17%2C+2020.+Photo+credit%3A+Kianna+Znika

On Feb. 19, the Board of Trustees finalized the purchase of the Barnwall student housing units. Dr. Jose Fierro plans to have the property open to the students by April 17, 2020. Photo credit: Kianna Znika

Kianna Znika, Editor in chief

The Board of Trustees finalized plans for the off-campus housing facilities last Wednesday, addressing the reported “basic needs insecurities” among the majority of students within schoolgrounds.

The property located at 1143-1149 Barnwall St. in Norwalk consists of seven townhome-style units with garages. One unit contains two bed/baths while the other six include three bedrooms with three bathrooms.

Dr. Jose Fierro, president of Cerritos College, told the board they are planning to have these units tentatively opened on April 17.

“We’d like to obviously have the presence of the board there to kick off our first student housing facilities,” he said.

Felipe Lopez, campus official of Business/Fiscal Services, explained the property’s purpose is to “provide housing exclusively for Cerritos College students who are experiencing some type of homelessness or housing insecurity through a community partnership.”

According to statistics brought forward by Lopez, approximately 65% of students on campus experienced at least one form of basic needs insecurity in the past year.

“55% of those that were surveyed are ‘housing insecure’ which basically means respondents have difficulty paying their rent, their mortgage, and struggle paying a full amount of rent, mortgage, and/or utilities,” Lopez said.

“Of those that were also surveyed, 15% experienced homelessness, which under this definition means a person that does not have a stable place to live so there is definitely a need for this type of property for Cerritos College,” he added.

Commercial Real Estate Inspections, LLC, a third party, inspected the property, including interior, exterior and sewer. The school has already received confirmation from the Department of General Services – Division of State Architect that the units are sufficient for its intended purpose.

A follow-up inspection of the sewer line will be scheduled on Feb. 26 in regard to possible blockage noted in the original inspection.

The school has already reviewed and accepted the building, obtaining all construction, building plans and permits necessary.

With the recent approval from the Board of Trustees, escrow will take approximately 15 days to fully close and be recorded to the county. Once done, the school will be provided keys and be able to occupy the property.

“This has been a long time coming,” Lopez said. “We’re very excited to be at this stage of the project, looking forward to getting this approved and move to the next step.”

The full fiscal impact of the housing plans is currently at $3.8 million, paid from unrestricted general fund reserves.

The school set its plans in motion for off-campus student housing when the Board of Trustees authorized the Vice President of Business Services/Assistant Superintendent to enter into escrow and pay the $100,000 deposit for the Barnwall property on Aug. 7, 2019.