The College Park City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to support a request by Maryland’s 21st District delegation for the state to provide a $50 million subsidy that would be used to develop more-affordable graduate student housing in the city.
Currently, more than 10,000 graduate students are enrolled at the University of Maryland. Yet, there are only two university-owned buildings — 475 beds total — for graduate student housing below market rates and “can be reasonably afforded” by students, according to city documents.
Most of College Park’s student housing developed in the last decade is targeted toward undergraduates, not graduate students. Graduate students are more likely to prioritize having fewer roommates and living with other graduate students, according to a city report.
Also, graduate students would ideally need to pay no more than $700 per person based on current stipend rates at the university, the city report said. The cost to live in housing built for undergraduates, such as Terrapin Row, can cost from $1,000 to $1,600 a month.
The three methods of creating affordable housing units outlined in the city’s report are: develop completely new housing, acquire existing multifamily buildings to convert them into affordable housing or convert single-family rentals into graduate student housing.
The report suggests creating housing will likely require a combination of the three solutions.
Sam DiBella, a doctoral student at this university, testified via Zoom during the meeting in support of the plan for more affordable graduate student housing.
DiBella lives in Washington, D.C., he said, partially because he could not find affordable housing in College Park.”
College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn said he is supportive of moving forward with the increased accessibility of housing units.
“We really just need to make the investment now,” Wojahn said. “This is a key priority for us.”