Local State Legislators Secure Additional $2.5M for Imperial Valley Student Housing

An $11.6 million check was presented to SDSU Imperial Valley and Imperial Valley College toward a joint student housing project.

Monday, November 6, 2023
From left: SDSU Imperial Valley Dean Gina Nuez-Mchiri, IVC President Lennor Johnson, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, SDSU President Adela De la Torre and  IVC Board Clerk Isabel Solis. (SDSU)
From left: SDSU Imperial Valley Dean Gina Nuez-Mchiri, IVC President Lennor Johnson, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, SDSU President Adela De la Torre and IVC Board Clerk Isabel Solis. (SDSU)

With the passage of the 2023-24 California budget, the joint student housing partnership planned between Imperial Valley College and San Diego State University Imperial Valley is one step closer to happening. 

During an event at SDSU Imperial Valley on Nov. 6, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia presented a check in support of the project for more than $11.6 million to SDSU President Adela de la Torre, SDSU Imperial Valley Dean Gina G. Núñez-Mchiri, Superintendent/President for Imperial Community College District Lennor Johnson and IVC Board Clerk Isabel Solis representing the IVC Board of Trustees. 

The check amount includes $2.5 million secured by Garcia and an additional $9 million in funding from the Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program, all of which goes toward $17 million in project costs. 

“Offering affordable student housing in Imperial Valley has been one of our top priorities for the Valley, especially as data shows that undergraduates who live on campus are better prepared academically, enjoy an increased sense of community and campus connectedness, and graduate at higher and faster rates,” de la Torre said. “This is part of a multiyear strategic focus to invest in new programs, faculty positions, student support services and infrastructure – all designed to meet the needs of students and families right here, close to home.” 

The joint student housing partnership between SDSU Imperial Valley and Imperial Valley College will use the state investment to build 40 single- or double-occupancy rooms at SDSU Imperial Valley’s Calexico location. The project is set to break ground in early 2025. The student housing is planned to be available to students enrolled at SDSU Imperial Valley and Imperial Valley College. 

This will be the second affordable student housing project for IVC. In 2021, the community college, in partnership with the City of El Centro and the Imperial Valley College Foundation, opened Lotus Living, a 26-unit tiny homes project in El Centro that prioritizes housing for former foster youth and homeless students.

“We are thrilled to participate in this excellent affordable student housing project. This is just the latest example of an outstanding educational partnership we have had with San Diego State University Imperial Valley for the past six decades,” Johnson said. 

“The 40 rooms in this dormitory will help us leverage local higher educational opportunities over the years for many young people who may not otherwise afford college,” he said. “It will become an important tool as we continue to increase educational attainment in our Valley.”

This new announcement follows last year’s $80 million investment in support of building the SDSU Imperial Valley’s Brawley Sciences and Engineering Laboratories. 

Working on both of these efforts was Garcia, who helped secure critical funding in support of the student housing effort. He and State Sen. Steve Padilla represent Imperial County, where SDSU Imperial Valley is located. The university has sites in both Calexico and Brawley. 

“Senator Steve Padilla and I are grateful to deliver $2.5 million from the California State Budget to support student housing at SDSU Imperial Valley,” Garcia said. “Increased access to housing is vital to student success. This latest state investment aligns with our mutual strides to uplift our region through education and economic empowerment.” 

The new investment for the Valley will support a significant expansion project for SDSU Imperial Valley, which has historically served commuter students only dating back to 1959. 

In recent years, and under the charge of de la Torre, there have been numerous investments in support of students and families in the Valley. Those investments include new faculty and staff hires, including researchers and student support experts; and additional academic programs, including the Bachelor of Science in Public Health, which are set to start fall 2024. In May 2022, SDSU Imperial Valley announced the creation of an accelerated pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

“Higher education research has shown for years that there are many desirable academic and social outcomes for students who live on campus. “They are more likely to stay on track for graduation and have stronger connections to campus that help them to be successful,” said Nuñez, SDSU Imperial Valley dean.

“The student housing project will ensure current and future housing needs of SDSU Imperial Valley and IVC students are met as our programs continue to grow with the addition of new degree offerings that prepare our students — and the region — for the highly specific Lithium Valley related careers and workforce opportunities,” Nuñez said. 

“We are thrilled that, for the first time in our history, we will have housing designed specifically for the needs of our students who overwhelmingly remain in the Valley after they graduate,” Nuñez said. “We look forward to making this project a reality and, more importantly, in being able to provide and support student housing for our students.” 

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