Available housing remains scarce for U students

Liz Kohman

Ben Mohs needs a place to live. He’s made the three-hour drive from Plainview, Minn., to the University three times since May to look for apartments, but his search has been futile.

Mohs, a sophomore, said he wanted to live in the dorms, but as a transfer student, he had no priority and wasn’t able to get a room.

“I’m getting a little mad we haven’t found a place, and it’s getting close to fall,” Mohs said. He is looking for a place within walking distance from campus for himself and a roommate.

He said his search is frustrating because he is still learning how to get around the University and nearby neighborhoods.

Mohs did get a few leads last Wednesday as he searched for local apartments in the off-campus housing office located in Comstock Hall.

The off-campus housing office is difficult to find due to construction surrounding Coffman Union and Comstock Hall, but finding it could lead housing seekers closer to their goal.

Office staff are available to provide advice, directions and describe University neighborhoods to searchers.

The off-campus housing Web site offers up-to-date listings from approximately 1,500 landlords and allows students to search for housing from wherever they are.

Deb Marsh, the coordinator of customer service and communications for Housing and Residential Life, said that during July and August, landlords start posting openings for fall, and students begin serious housing searches.

“I don’t have a place to live. It’s kind of essential,” said Jacob Dick, a senior studying Italian who just returned from a year studying in Italy. “It’ll be hard to find people (to room with) and I don’t want to spend too much.”

Dick said he hates being near the University and would like to live somewhere where he can escape from campus culture.

Marsh said living off-campus can be a positive experience because it allows students to learn more about the city.

Erin Dorbin, a transfer student from Michigan, said she felt “completely overwhelmed” by the housing search process. Dorbin, who found out she had been accepted to the University but couldn’t live in the filled-to-capacity dorms, was looking for an efficiency apartment.

“It doesn’t look like there’s much left,” said Dorbin, who only had two days to find an apartment before returning to Michigan.

When looking for apartments, students should always see the property before signing anything, Marsh said. She also said it is important to consider the neighborhood and check the apartment carefully for needed repairs.

A student who spends two days searching for at least eight to ten hours will find housing, Marsh said.

Signing leases can pose another problem for first-time renters. Marsh suggested reading the lease thoroughly and looking for anything suspect such as extra fees or an elaborate return process for the damage deposit.

Students can search for apartments using the off-campus housing Web site, www.umn.edu/housing/offcampus.htm or visit the off-campus housing office.

 

Liz Kohman welcomes comments at [email protected].