<- Back

HBCUs Find Creative Solutions to the Student Housing Problem
Axcess Studios What Makes Us Stand Out

Anyone familiar with the complexities of student housing is aware that there is a large shortfall in available, safe, and affordable places for students to live. With that in mind, many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are finding creative ways to tackle the problem head-on. Student Housing of America (SHA) is helping HBCUS at the forefront of these challenges and aiding in their unique solutions.

A prime example of creative solutions can be seen at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. The university has plans to use twenty-four shipping containers to house ninety-eight students on their campus. The Nashville Tennessean reports that the school hopes to not only use these newly constructed residences to ease their on-campus housing crunch, but to also provide affordable student housing options to their students as rents skyrocket across the country.

Fisk’s Executive Vice President Jens Frederiksen told NBC News that due to higher enrollment in a short period of time, the shipping container solution provides “sustainable flexibility.” Frederiksen also says that the newest housing adds some dimension to rapidly aging dorms that are still on campus.

The total cost for the project is estimated at about $4 million. Fisk’s other instance of new housing, a 300-bed conventional residence hall, will cost approximately $20 million. Although the container housing will cost roughly $40,800 per student to build versus the $66,668 per student for the traditional residence hall, it will have painted exteriors, kitchenettes, and private bathrooms: all items that help increase livability and comfort of student housing.

HBCUs must keep up with the demand for student housing; while many traditional four-year colleges and universities are seeing enrollment decline, HBCUs are seeing record-breaking enrollments after years of decline. At the end of 2022, many HBCUs cited record-setting years for admission, according to NPR. One of these prestigious institutions was Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. From 2019 to 2020, the college saw an increase of 60% in their applications. For HBCUs to not address the housing shortage, especially with aging dorms and booming student enrollment, would be negligent.

A January 2022 report by The Hope Center and Virginia Union University surveyed nearly 5,000 students at fourteen public and private HBCUs. When looking at the numbers, 55% of surveyed students were housing insecure in the previous year; twenty percent experienced homelessness in the same timeframe. The report defines housing insecurity as “a broad set of challenges that prevent someone from having a safe, affordable, and consistent place to live.”

Other creative options include apartment-style living on campus and even offering hotels as a short-term option as universities look to address the student housing shortage issue. Some campuses that used hotels as options even offered discounted tuition and fees, the option to take classes online, and even free courses while they worked to help provide secure and safe housing options to their students.

In addition to creative physical solutions to the student housing shortage, many other schools are looking at options such as public-private partnerships (PPPs). Many HBCUs have partnerships with their local communities and businesses, hoping to tap into available resources while providing their students with safe, affordable, and comfortable living conditions.

As an advocate group for students at HBCUs, SHA works to ensure that all students at HBCUs have secure, safe housing. Working as a tax-exempt group, SHA collaborates with HBCUs to renovate local, distressed housing for student use. This is a part of SHA’s HBCU Healthy Housing (H3) Initiative. With strong partnerships and relationships created through the H3 program, all stakeholders benefit: especially the students.

SHA also supports HBCU students through its programs that focus on other important issues. These include scholarships, mental health resources, and more. Videos, webinars, and other media are readily available through SHA and updated regularly.

Please visit SHA’s site to make a charitable donation; that generosity helps provide secure, safe, and affordable housing options for students and contribute to their ever-expanding student program offerings.


#studenthousing #studenthousingofamerica #creativesolutions #complexproblems #hbcu #safeaffordablestudenthousing