The purpose of the University Students' Cooperative Association (USCA) is to offer low-cost, cooperative housing to university students, thereby promoting the general welfare of the community, and providing an educational opportunity for students who might not otherwise be able to afford a university education. The organization is committed to educating and influencing the community in order to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in housing.
Born in the Great Depression, the USCA has long recognized the importance of its role in helping the less advantaged in our society gain access to a university education and providing support for those of diverse backgrounds. Fourteen Cal students founded the USCA in 1933 with help from Stiles Hall and a $500 loan from the Club House Fund of the University. Inspired and sponsored by YMCA (Stiles Hall) director Harry Kingman, the students were able to persuade community member Annie Dickson to rent a boarding housing where the students paid rent and did workshifts, combining their resources to live cost effectively. The concept was so successful that the students built up capital working during the summer of 1933 to acquire an old fraternity to house and feed 50 students, and by the summer of 1934 acquired a second fraternity house. By the end of 1934, the two houses incorporated as a non-profit co-op association and had succeeded to the point of being able to lease a 200-person apartment house for further expansion.