Housing shortage, soaring rents squeeze US college students
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UC Berkeley sophomore Terrell Thompson slept in his car for nearly two weeks at the start of the school year last fall, living out of a suitcase stashed in the trunk and texting dozens of landlords a day in a desperate search for a place to live.
The high-achieving student from a low-income household in Sacramento, California, was majoring in business administration at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Yet, Thompson folded his 6-foot frame into the back seat of his Honda Accord at night, wondering how he would ever find a home in the exorbitantly expensive San Francisco Bay Area city.
College students across the U.S. are looking for housing for the 2022-23 school year and if 2021 was any indication, it won’t be easy. Students at colleges from California to Florida were denied on-campus housing last fall and found themselves sitting out the year at home or living in motel rooms or vehicles as surging rents and decades of failing to build sufficient student housing came to a head.
Nationally, 43% of students at four-year universities experienced housing insecurity in 2020, up from 35% in 2019, according to an annual survey conducted by The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University. Students reported being unable to pay utilities, rent or mortgage, living in overcrowded units, or moving in with others due to financial difficulties.