Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
College Park, the rent is too damn high.
The exorbitant rent prices in this city have become somewhat of a necessary evil: If students want to live where they attend university, they’ll have to fork up copious amounts of money monthly. Living on or close to the campus is a huge part of the college experience, and students shouldn’t have to accept sky-high rent as a requirement of it. It’s time for the city of College Park to take a stand against rising rent rates and advocate for the students who breathe life into this city.
Let’s start by dissecting the different types of housing available in College Park. First, there’s on-campus housing, which consists of traditional dorms, suites and apartments. Then there’s South Campus Commons and Courtyards, which are managed by Capstone On-Campus Management, a private apartment management corporation. Finally, there are the apartment complexes and houses beyond the borders of the campus.
With all of these options, you’d think there’d be plenty of housing with reasonable pricing for broke college students. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This university has over 40,000 total students, but there are just not enough residences available within College Park’s 5.64-mile radius to house everyone. This shortage is where the problem lies.
Both the university and the private apartment complexes know there isn’t enough housing in College Park, and these organizations are able to capitalize off this scarcity by charging egregiously high rent. Insufficient housing is the reason the least expensive single bedroom on the campus, in South Campus Commons, is $957 a month. It’s the reason a single bedroom in an apartment in Terrapin Row, a “luxury” complex right next to the campus, ranges from $1,219 to $1,909. It’s the reason it’s nearly impossible to find an affordable room in this city.
When it costs about $1,000 a month to rent a single bedroom in College Park, who can even afford housing? There is an unspoken hierarchy about where you live and what that means about your socioeconomic class. Living in Landmark, Terrapin Row or any of the other higher end apartment buildings comes with assumptions about who you are and what you can afford, even if those assumptions aren’t necessarily correct.
Some students have to take out loans to afford to live in College Park. Others have to work multiple jobs. These apartment complexes are taking advantage of a vulnerable population that is forced to either acquiesce to the prices they choose to set or forgo college life, and it has to stop.
The city of College Park can and should do something about this crisis. The city wants the students, and the students want the city. So why not work with them to make sure they can actually afford to live here? With new apartment complexes already in the works, it’s crucial the city advocates for students. Whether it’s creating a task force addressing rent prices, passing legislation to ensure affordable rent prices, or working with the university to subsidize on-campus rent, there is action the city can take to both gain revenue from these apartments while also fighting for the students who are the spirit of College Park.
Of course, students have to engage in a cost-benefit analysis when deciding where they want to live. Do they want to be closer to the hustle and bustle of the campus and shell out thousands of dollars each month in rent? Or do they want to save money and live farther away from their friends, the restaurants and the campus?
Students shouldn’t have to be paying preposterous prices to participate in college life. We shouldn’t have to accept housing as an extraordinary burden. Everyone in this city should have access to affordable rent.
Maya Rosenberg is a junior journalism and public policy major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.