How America’s Housing Shortage Is Affecting College Students

By Erika Hanson | 2 months ago

student housing

America might have made it through the Housing bubble collapse of 2008, but another housing shortage epidemic is rife in the nation. According to NPR, the United States is short more than three million homes from the demand of homebuyers. Despite the reasons for this, it has made the market much more competitive for home buyers, driving up costs and making it hard for many to find places to live. But homebuyers aren’t the only groups affected by the crisis. A new report from the Associated Press studies how the issue has trickled down into student housing, even forcing many students to live out of their cars in order to stay in college.

The allegations may seem baffling, but the information is undeniable. Students are paying outrageous fees for run-down apartments, commuting extreme distances to classes, or being forced to live homeless amid the student housing shortage in America. The lack of housing for students culminated from the pandemic, but it is an issue some believe dates back farther than that.

student housing

California holds the key to why student housing has grown into such a preposterous issue. Within the golden state, the lack of accommodations for college students has been a perpetual issue for years now, where many homeowners and communities are pushing back against schools attempting to alleviate issues by building more student housing facilities. Many of these claims say that it is an issue with student enrollment numbers, not necessarily the need for more housing. 

Across the nation, nearly half of all students attending four-year universities reported that they experienced housing insecurity in 2020, according to an annual survey conducted by The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University. Within the poll, it was revealed that the student housing crisis left many unable to pay rent or mortgages and living in overcrowded units in order to survive. Furthermore, the survey found that 14% of all college enrolled students experienced homelessness within the last year.

The cost of rent is a huge factor driving these numbers. Nationally, the average price of rentals has increased 17% over the past year. That increase is often higher for student housing in popular college towns. Chapel Hill, North Carolina, experienced a 24% hike in rent prices, while other college towns like Tempe, Arizona saw a 34% increase since last year. In a controversial act, Long Beach City College outside of Los Angeles set in motion a pilot program to provide homeless students with space in an enclosed parking garage. These students lived entirely out of their cars but were given bathrooms, electrical outlets, and internet access as they worked with school officials to find permanent housing.

student housing

While plenty of schools report dropping enrollment figures this year, the situation is much different for the University of California in Berkeley. The college has seen steady inclines in enrollments over the years as it grapples to find new student housing options. Many students that attend the Californian university this year have reported being homeless, as they could not afford rent. Moreover, the campuses offer limited dorm space, and the competition has driven prices to unbearable proportions. Even off-campus housing tends to start at $1,600 a month for a 300-square foot studio apartment.

Many experts in the field believe America’s housing shortage will continue on for many years. With that thought, colleges and universities need to combat student fears with alternative student housing initiatives to keep young Americans safe and protected. Given that money is the driving force in American life, reports of college homelessness will likely continue through the coming years.