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Without the GUP, Stanford can still be a leader in tackling affordability issues

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We were disheartened to hear about Stanford’s withdrawal of its application to obtain a General Use Permit with Santa Clara County. Stanford’s official statement outlines the University’s commitment to engaging “local communities” in order to “gain deeper mutual understanding of the challenges facing our region, how Stanford can best enhance its contribution to addressing those challenges, and what the implications are for our longer-term campus development.” We urge the University to ensure that it includes the over 1,250 on-campus service and technical workers represented by SEIU Local 2007 as part of its engagement of local communities. If and when the University decides to submit another application for a General Use Permit, we will remain engaged and push for affordable workforce housing. Although we recognize it’s not Stanford’s responsibility to solve all the problems of affordable housing, we do believe Stanford can play an important role in addressing affordability issues. 

Stanford should be true to its founding purpose of “promot[ing] the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization” by developing affordable workforce housing and treating its workers with respect. For example the University could create more than the 10 below-market-rate (BMR) units it has allocated in its Middle Plaza project, increase BMR units at Stanford West, or open up the three BMR units it’s building in Portola Valley to service workers. Just because the county is not requiring the University to build workforce housing, doesn’t mean it cannot make it a primary focus as it grapples with affordability issues in its affordability task force.

Affordability issues are not limited to affordable housing, however, and Stanford can support workers addressing the rising costs of healthcare for employees. If the University provided the same healthcare for its employees as it did for its hospital employees, this would be a step in the right direction. Moreover, the University needs to take a hard look at its retiree healthcare costs that makes it practically impossible for workers to retire until they are Medicare eligible. If Stanford wants to promote itself as a world-class leader and a good neighbor, it can start by taking care of its own house. We have always offered to meet with University leadership to discuss affordability issues concerning our members and that offer continues to remain open.

— SEIU Local 2007