Despite improved numbers, student housing remains tight

by Anne Preller

University students face a tight housing situation despite metro vacancy rate increases and about 300 new University beds.

The vacancy rate for off-campus housing has risen from .5 percent to 1.5 percent since last year.

A healthy housing market usually has a 4 percent to 5 percent vacancy rate.

“Everyone wants to live in a cool house in Dinkytown. It’s all about location, location, location,” said Debra Marsh, coordinator of customer service and communications in the off-campus housing office.

“Students can get housing, it just doesn’t get to be their first or second choice,” Marsh said.

A vacancy rate barely exceeding 1 percent forces students to find off-campus housing that doesn’t meet expectations of location, roommate capacity and price.

According to the University’s Off-Campus Housing Service, a student can rent an unfurnished studio apartment for about $450-$550 a month.

A three-bedroom unfurnished apartment costs between $1,000 and $1,300 a month. A four-bedroom unfurnished house costs as much as $3,000 a month. These estimated prices do not include utilities such as heat, water, electricity or telephone.

When looking for off-campus housing, students should note the cost of the security deposit and what it will cover and read the lease carefully, said housing and residential officials.

Through Housing and Residential Life’s online off-campus housing service, students can search for the perfect location.

But students shouldn’t expect to find housing in residential halls.

There are no open spaces for the fall semester, said housing officials. There is a waiting list for students interested in residential living, but they shouldn’t expect housing until spring semester or later.

An increase in residential housing requests has the Housing and Residential Life Department scrambling to find beds.

The freshman guarantee, created in 1995, guarantees freshman on-campus housing for their first year if they apply before May 1.

On-campus housing retention rates increased because of second and third-year students not wanting to face the tight metro housing market.

The University will increase housing capacity 38 percent with the addition of the Riverbend Commons housing complex, slated for completion in fall 2002. The new building will add 424 new beds.

Despite the new complex and the slowly increasing vacancy rate, students should start searching early to find an ideal off-campus domain. To acquire housing in a residential unit, students will have to bide their time on the Housing and Residential Life list and hope their number comes up quickly.


Anne Preller covers student life and
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