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University Heights Offers Home Ownership

October 14, 2008

By Daniel Carlsson

In a housing market still too expensive for many home buyers, Cal State Fullerton faculty members are becoming first-time homeowners at the new University Heights neighborhood built by the campus Housing Authority.

Ionel Tifrea, assistant professor of physics, recently moved into University Heights with his wife, Delia, a doctor, and their 6-year-old daughter. Tifrea joined the Cal State Fullerton campus in 2006, moving to Orange County from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Born and educated in Romania, where he earned his doctorate, he said that the availability of faculty housing for him and his family was one of the “conditions” of joining the Cal State Fullerton faculty.

Their University Heights house is the first they've owned in the U.S.

“We are very happy,” Tifrea said.

University Heights, located about three miles from campus, encompasses 42 three- and four-bedroom homes built for faculty and staff. The development features a multipurpose community building, a pool and spa, picnic and covered patio areas and outdoor barbecues.

“University Heights is the type of housing the university needs to attract quality faculty and staff,” said William Dickerson, executive director of the housing authority (

The CSUF Housing Authority is a special-purpose auxiliary established to oversee the development of affordable housing for the university. In June 2001, the authority broke ground on University Gables on eight acres at the corner of Malvern Avenue and Dale Street in Buena Park. University Gables has 36 town homes and 50 detached homes.

Dickerson said that to maintain affordability of University Heights, the neighborhood is built on lease land controlled by the Cal State University system.

Although current housing prices have dropped, University Heights homes still are priced about 10 to 15 percent below comparable new homes. The 1,706- to 1,975-square-foot homes are priced, starting at about $400,000.

The housing value offered by University Heights attracted Kay Stanton, professor of English, comparative literature and linguistics.

“I was interested in University Gables but they were sold out, so when University Heights began selling, I was determined to purchase a home there,” the first-time homeowner said. “I was ready to stop renting.”

Another University Heights homeowner is Jasamin Rostam-Kolayi, assistant professor of history.

“Colleagues in the History Department were talking about University Heights and now that we have our first child, my husband and I thought we’d pursue more information,” Rostam-Kolayi said. “We really like the neighborhood, and we are happy to finally be homeowners.”

The homes are available through the Fullerton Workforce Housing Consortium to faculty and staff of Cal State Fullerton and other local colleges and schools, as well as employees of the city of Fullerton and St. Jude Medical Center. The sales office is located in Room 260 of College Park and is open by appointment by contacting Teri Fuller at 949-290-2122 or

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