Low vacancy rate, high demand worry students

This year, many students say finding off-campus housing is a sticky situation. The problem for students wanting to live off-campus is that Burlington’s housing supply is extremely low and the prices remain high. “[In Burlington] the rental supply is low. The vacancy rate averages between 1 to 3 percent. Five percent would be better for a healthy rental market,” Chairman and Director of Statewide Housing Services Ted Wimpey said. This makes it more difficult for students who want to live off campus to find available housing. “Last year it took six to seven months to rent all of my properties,” Property Manager Mark Farrell said. “This year things are back to normal and I am getting calls every day. My prices are slightly below the top of the market and all of my properties are clean, neat and in good shape.” The increase in calls could be due to this year’s sophomore class being one of the largest in recent history, according to the Office of Institutional Research. “It’s a good thing to start looking early because it’s very expensive to live in this area and a lot of the cheaper housing goes fast,” junior Laurel Ganem said. “Also, if you can get heat included for a good price, do it.” Some students say the quality of housing is an issue as well. “It’s tough to find a place that is the right size for the right price,” junior Dan Greenfield said. “My apartment is smaller than I wanted, but it’s an affordable price and everything is working out alright.” However, not all students have met difficulties with their housing situation. “I lucked out because my house is right in the middle of school and downtown. I have a seven minute walk to class and I only pay $500 a month,” senior Lily Grant said. In the fall of 2009, only 6.9 percent of juniors lived on campus and only 2.4 percent of seniors lived on campus. This fall, 7.1 percent of juniors live on campus and 2.6 percent of seniors live on campus, according to the Office of Residential Life. “I want to live off campus next year but it’s hard to find a place that is affordable in downtown Burlington and I don’t really know how to begin looking,” sophomore Matt Henry said. As the percentages show, the majority of students choose to move off campus their junior and senior year, but many do not know how to find the right place. “I think there is a good buzz throughout the student community on how to find housing,” junior Erin Knapp said. “I don’t think UVM really reaches out to students to help them.” Director of Student and Community Relations Gail Shampnois and Coordinator of Off-Campus Services Alicia Taylor have developed an Off-Campus Housing Workshop for students. “With the increase in students, seniors and juniors are aware of the need to secure a place earlier and earlier,” Property Manager and workshop liason Jill Diemer said. “In recent years, the majority of students usually get everything together in November.” The goals of the workshops are to prepare students on a variety of things like information on how to rent off campus and how to be successful tenants. They also provide students with resources on how to stay safe and healthy off campus along with many other things, according to the Office of Student and Community Relations.