Housing Crunch

Published 11:00 pm Monday, August 8, 2016

Housing Crunch

Troy University has reached a record international enrollment this year, which means that more than 500 new international students need a place to live.

International enrollment has been growing steadily over the past few years said Curtis Porter, associate vice chancellor for international affairs. This year’s new enrollment, however, is a bigger increase than he has seen in recent years, and it comes at a time when overall enrollment at the university is higher than ever.

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“This is an enormous, significant increase,��� Porter said. “We aren’t sure of the exact number right now, but it’s over 500 new students.”

Porter said that the university had an enrollment of around 900 international students last year and normally takes in about 325 new students each year, putting international enrollment well over 1,000 for the upcoming semester.

The problem is that the school’s enrollment, both international and domestic, is increasing faster than housing, and American students tend to have their housing set by the time international students arrive.

“It’s a serious housing crunch,” Porter said. “The international students are all coming in now. They are having to stay in hotels and motels while we help find them a place to stay. Other students come first and get housing while our students always come last.”

One of the issues, Porter said, is the fact that international students rely heavily on walking and the transit system, which means they have to live near the university or somewhere with nearby shuttle access.

“They almost have to be where they can at least walk to one of the shuttle stops,” Porter said. “They can’t exactly go to Brundidge.”

Despite the situation, Porter said Friday that university officials are patiently waiting for some places to open up.

“I’m hopeful that it will be resolved early in the fall semester,” Porter said. “If it becomes a crisis, we’ll have to come up with something else, but we’ll find something.”

Three days later, the situation hadn’t changed.

“Nothing is happening,” Porter said on Monday. “They’re piling up in motels and some of them have reservations coming up, so we are having to try to switch rooms for them.”

Porter said that there’s a possible housing solution arise soon, but that there’s no sure thing yet. Porter said that they were “sort of depending on it to come through.” He did want to elaborate on the possible resolution.

Another option is promoting “homestay,” in which an international student would rent a room from a local family.

Porter said no homestay program in currently place, because the international programs department has been reluctant to do it in the past. However, the program may be a consideration this year.

According to Porter, some local residents have taken in some of the international students during their gap in housing.

“We’re hurting right now,” Porter said. “We appreciate every bit of help we can get.”