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Student Housing Uncertainties: Fall 2023
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Entering or returning to college in the fall is usually a time of excitement. However, this fall, excitement was dashed for some students because they face uncertainty about their housing status—be it on campus or otherwise. According to a recent Forbes article, two key reasons exist for this uncertainty. First, many colleges across the nation are experiencing enrollment increases as a result of students re-entering college after the Covid-19 pandemic pauses and are simply unable to house all students who apply for housing. Second, off-campus rents have risen, making this type of housing unaffordable for some students. This is particularly true for colleges and universities located in urban areas.

Institutions, both large and small, are contending with these trends, but Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) may also be experiencing enrollment increases due to the recent US Supreme Court decision that disallowed the use of race in college admissions. In addition, many HBCUs often have aging and deteriorating housing stock. This reality makes the challenge of meeting the increased demand for housing all the more daunting.

Student Housing of America, Inc., (SHA), through its HBCU Healthy Housing (H3) Initiative, partners with HBCUs to renovate distressed properties near the university to provide state-of-the-art, safe, and affordable housing for college students.

The Washington Post recently reported that Morgan State University (MSU), an HBCU located in Baltimore, Maryland, has seen enrollments rise to a high of 9,000 students this fall, but is currently only able to house about 2,600 students. While, housing construction and renovation projects are underway, they will not be completed until fall 2024. Also, off-campus housing is limited near MSU and where available, rents are out of reach for students. In addition, the institution is seeking to connect with developers about creating apartments near campus, largely to house upperclassmen.

The result of the lack of housing for students is often housing insecurity or homelessness. Neither bode well for academic success or personal wellness. Housing insecurity is consists of three dimensions: lack of affordability, lack of stable occupancy, and lack of safety and decency. Being homeless or unsheltered is defined as: “lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, such as those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, or places not meant for habitation.”

Colleges and universities are finding creative, albeit temporary, solutions for housing shortages in order to meet demand (and help students avoid the conditions mentioned above). For example, the aforementioned Forbes article details that Middlebury College (MC) in Vermont is paying some upperclassmen a $10,000 stipend to take a semester off during the 2023-2024 fall and winter terms. Also, MC is sponsoring a new study abroad program in Copenhagen, Denmark, designed specifically for freshmen in order to help meet the demand for student housing. In this program, students receive a stipend to study abroad during their first college semester.

Another example includes Le Moyne College in upstate New York. Through a nonprofit, Phins Management Inc., the college recently purchased 20 homes near the campus to ensure their students remain able to live in the homes going forward. The purchase price for those homes: $4.1M.


While these types of solutions are not necessarily feasible for many HBCUs due to a lack of resources and underfunding issues, other temporary student housing remedies pursued by HBCUs as well as other institutions of higher education, include housing students in hotels, trailers, and refurbished shipping crates.

Student Housing of America, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 1999. Our mission is to help students be successful throughout their college career by providing safe, stable and affordable housing designed to meet their scholastic needs and creating a positive environment for achievement through our various support programs.

We work hand-in-hand with HBCUs, corporate partners, and other organizations to address students’ needs and provide for their well-being.

Please consider donating in support of our efforts to provide safe, affordable housing as well as to champion HBCU students, their academic endeavors, and overall well-being.

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