College students struggling to find affordable housing

Facing high rents and limited on- and off-campus room availability, U.S. college and university students are reporting difficulty securing housing for the fall term.

As of June, rent prices in 44 of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas had hit record highs, USA Today reports. In July, 35 percent of college students and recent graduates responding to a survey by said they couldn’t afford to rent an apartment in their college town.

Related: Rise of pricey housing near campuses forcing lower-income students farther away >

Many students are scrambling, having delayed their housing decisions and applications this year amid uncertainty about campus reopenings and the pandemic’s trajectory. Thirty percent of the more than 500 respondents to the survey said the pandemic had caused them to finalize their fall housing later than they would have otherwise.

Housing shortage affecting thousands of UC students

In the University of California system alone, thousands of students remain on wait lists for campus dorm rooms, EdSource reports. UC San Diego is limiting dorm room occupancy to two students this year, reducing capacity compared with past years, when some rooms housed three students. UC Berkeley, meanwhile, had about 5,000 unfulfilled dorm room requests before the school year started, according to the university.

Others seeking off-campus apartments and houses have encountered sky-high rents and occupancy restrictions due to COVID-19. Students say the conditions have put certain neighborhoods out of reach, including those surrounding UC Santa Barbara, which had more than 900 students on its campus housing wait list as of a few weeks ago. UC Merced even delayed the start of in-person classes this fall, recognizing that around 1,000 students still didn’t have housing.

Related: Colleges, partners step up investments to address housing insecurity >

Some UC campuses are working with local hotels and properties to quickly accommodate students unable to secure other housing. Students, meanwhile, say they’re trying to pivot, commuting from homes hours away or attempting to secure temporary accommodations. Others are urging campuses to offer online instruction for students unable to find permanent housing, and still others say they may take the semester off and try again later.

EdSource, USA Today
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