Stacked against students

The University should help students navigate the off-campus housing market.

by Daily Editorial Board

There is a dissonant and confusing trend toward high-density “luxury” apartment complexes near campus, where renters tend to be cash-strapped students. The University should take an active role in mitigating some of this trendâÄôs worst effects.

Generally speaking, high-density, compact development is positive. It reduces sprawl and can reduce infrastructure costs for municipalities. Unfortunately, the majority of this high-density development near campus is of the wrong kind âÄî expensive rather than affordable.

Developers argue that this is due to the “demands” of a new generation of students who seek more amenities. Indeed, charging absurdly high rents has rewarded developers in the past.

But this is not due to changing student demands. Rather, the market is tilted against students who lack complete information about their off-campus housing options. Making the problem worse, choosing to live in a high-priced apartment complex is often the first housing decision a student has ever made on his or her own.

It is unlikely that the administration can convince Minneapolis to curtail the spread of luxury apartment complexes near campus âÄî they are very lucrative. But the administration should take an active role in making sure that students are aware of the variety of affordable off-campus housing options available to them.

Fewer than a quarter of undergraduates and almost no graduate students live in University housing, yet the Office of Housing and Residential Life and its website target only this small population. The administration should redirect its efforts to provide more education and information to students who fall victim to a high-density housing market often stacked against them.