COSTA MESA, Calif. (KABC) -- Orange Coast College is expected to become the first community college in Southern California to offer on-campus housing.
Construction is about to get underway on an empty lot off Adams Avenue in Costa Mesa.
"I thought it was a great idea because you don't see that with community colleges. You only see that with universities so that was a good option," said Garden Grove resident Starr James, who attends the college.
The complex will house 323 units and 814 beds, ranging from single units to four bedroom apartments.
College officials say it gives students a more affordable housing option.
"That's going to make a big difference for a lot of people," said Alecc Banda, who lives with his parents in Santa Ana to save money.
"Housing is really expensive and a lot of people who go here mostly have part-time jobs or stuff like that," said Megan Bastien, who commutes 30 minutes one-way from Huntington Beach to attend classes.
Figures show that in Costa Mesa renting a one-bedroom apartment will cost on average more than $1,800 a month.
"I would like to rent a place close to the school because I have to drive 40 minutes over here and take the bus back," said OCC student Israel Zaragoz who lives with his parents in Santa Ana.
"I pay $900 in rent so I would hope it would be a lot cheaper," said James.
College officials say they don't have an estimate on rent just yet.
"Haven't really come up with that (rent estimate) but the goal is to hold it steady for 5 years below market," said college spokesman Juan Gutierrez
Students in good standing can apply. However, Gutierrez says "we're looking at some of our groups that might need a little bit of housing help - returning veterans, emancipated foster youth, single parents."
He says construction will cost about $83 million.
The college is partnering with private firms.
To cover the cost $123 million in tax-free bonds will be issued. The debt will be paid for through rent.
Work is also underway to expand other services, such as food services and security, to make Orange Coast College a 24/7 campus - to accommodate the on-campus population.
Students should be able to move in by the fall of 2020.
Orange Coast College becoming 1st SoCal community college to offer housing