Students grapple with the stress of finding off-campus housing – The Hilltop

Aerial view of the Howard University campus. Photo courtesy of The Dig.

Located in Washington, D.C., Howard University has nearly 10,000 students enrolled and counting, all from various parts of the world. However, with such a large population, the university does not have enough accommodation to accommodate all of its students.

Malik Woullard came to Howard University because, at the time, it “made the most sense”, he described. Attracted to the university for its learning environment, rich education, and culture, Woullard would soon find himself engulfed in the stress of finding off-campus housing, a problem the majority of Howard students find themselves in.

“They provide a lot of support for freshmen and some for sophomores, but they don’t provide as much support for upperclass students, especially with housing,” Woullard said. “Our class is scattered everywhere, people who are still there. Some people have been able to get scholarships and pay for off-campus housing, but not everyone is so lucky.

Woullard, a full-time major in economics, has lived off campus since freshman year and has resorted to a house in Landover, Md., about a 30-minute drive from campus. He described the situation as far from ideal. “I lived with old people. I didn’t have much autonomy over the space… Housing is super expensive in this area. Pushing people off campus at 20, no credit, little credit — that’s kind of shocking,” he said.

Freshman housing on campus at Howard University includes Drew Hall (male), Cook Hall (male), Harriet Tubman Quadrangle (female), and College Hall North (mixed). For continuing students, residence halls include College Hall South, Howard Plaza Towers East & West, and Bethune Annex. In continuing education student dormitories, freshmen and sophomores are given priority, leaving the majority of the junior and senior student population without on-campus housing.

The Office of Off-Campus Housing and Community Engagement has provided resources for finding off-campus housing and apartments for students on the university’s website. Listed apartment prices range from $1,500 to over $5,000. Popular off-campus apartments include Vie Towers Apartments and Mazza Grandmarc Apartments. Both apartment complexes offer shuttle services for students traveling to the Howard campus. The Office of Off-Campus Housing and Community Engagement said on its website that to pay for these apartments, some students “use scholarships, grants, private funding, and loans to pay for their housing.”

The Hilltop contacted the Office of Off-Campus Housing and Community Engagement to discuss the university’s plan for student housing, but they did not respond in time for publication.

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As moving day approaches on May 8, the students prepare to find accommodation for the coming year. Skylah Browne, a second-year health sciences student currently residing on campus, has been seeking off-campus housing for the 2022-2023 academic year since November 2021. Browne is part of the graduating class of the University of 2024, which represents nearly 2,300 students, the majority of whom will need to find off-campus accommodation for the next school year.

“It’s hard to worry about finding something affordable near DC, but not too far,” Browne said. “Plus, I now have to save money to pay the rent and other bills that come with having my own apartment, while attending school full time.”

On March 23, Howard University announced a $785 million investment plan for the renovation and construction of new academic buildings as part of a Central Campus Phased Master Plan (CCMP). The capital plan is the largest real estate initiative in the university’s history. The plan also calls for the construction of up to 1,500 additional homes. Construction projects are not expected to be completed until 2026.

When asked about her thoughts on CCMP and efforts to invest in Howard’s on-campus housing, Browne said, “It makes me feel indifferent because it doesn’t really affect me. By then, I will have already graduated. But it gives me hope for future generations of HU students that they will have a better housing experience than me, and hopefully they can have guaranteed housing at least until their first year.

The CCMP announcement came a semester after the month-long student protest in Blackburn, where students called for transparency at the university and a plan that tackles the student housing crisis, among other issues.

Copy edited by: N’dia Webb

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