Students, parents upset:

Howard University Students Find Little Help with Housing Troubles

by Laurie Taylor

Over a thousand students are on the waiting list for university housing. Many make do by living in far-away hotels linked to campus by shuttle bus.

What ever happened to all of the Howard University students placed in hotels because of campus overflow? Not to worry—they are still there. Many students who reside in these hotels are extremely concerned about their fate for housing next year. A housing fair, sponsored the last week of April by Residence Life, proposed to have alternatives.

Although the fair had high attendance, many students felt it was not very beneficial. "There were less than ten representatives, and they all had high prices," said sophomore Jasmine Wade. Gerald McIntosh, of the Department of Residence Life, felt otherwise. "We are trying our best to provide reasonable options to the students," he said.

Though the roar of student and parent complaints has died down since the start of the academic year, many of their complaints have not yet been met. "I haven't seen them [Howard University] building any new dorms," said sophomore Patrice McClain.

Howard University students have been living off campus in either the Holiday Inn in Silver Spring, MD or The Double Tree Hotel in Arlington, VA. Next year the HU housing problem appears unlikely to be resolved. "Well, the hotel kids were supposed to have first priority in the housing lottery," said a Residence Life representative. But most of them remain on the housing waiting list.

Students like sophomore Elana Williams, who resides in the Holiday Inn, can attest to the inconveniences of hotel life. "It's really a shame that Howard is so unorganized, and that they allowed this to happen," she said. Many students who have campus housing feel the same way. "Why would Howard accept so many students if they could not accommodate them?" said sophomore Tiffany Jackson of Cooke Hall.

Many HU students have already resorted to off-campus housing as an option for next year. However, affordable housing throughout the area is very limited. "The cost of living in DC is very expensive...which in turn makes renting [cost] an arm and a leg," said Abbi Dutta, who owns property in the northwest area of DC. Other alternatives include a list available from Residence Life providing a few websites that they recommend for off-campus housing, including apartments.com, apartmentguide.com and apartmentassistant.net. Aside from these listings, there is also a small list of housing or rooms available in the District and surrounding areas.

As of now, students can only hope to find a place to live for next year. With the Howard University waiting list for housing extending past one thousand, it is hard to say what will happen to students next semester. It has not yet been disclosed if Howard University has purchased properties off campus or if they plan to extend hours of shuttle service operation if students continue to be placed in hotels for the upcoming academic year.


Ms. Taylor is a sophomore at Howard University.


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This story was published on May 2, 2002.