Ten-month-old Geno Lopez rubs his eyes, drinks down the last of his formula, and begins to fuss. His parents, Sergio and Maggie Lopez, squeeze into the space – barely a foot – where the crib is crammed between their bed and the wall to lay him down for the night.
“It’s very small. These units were obviously not built with families in mind,” Sergio said.
Two and a half years ago when they moved into the Goose Hollow Tower, a Portland State student housing building, a childless and recently married couple, the space was perfect for the both of them.
“The rent was reasonable,” Maggie said, “It’s a great place for a couple, but not for a student family.
Since Geno was born, the apartment’s problems are becoming more apparent. The walls and floors are cement – bad for a baby learning to walk – and the tiny refrigerator makes it impossible for the family to save money by purchasing food in bulk. The half-sized stove makes it hard to cook a meal, and the sink spits out brownish, peculiar-tasting water.
“It makes a regular water filter crumble after a couple of months,” Maggie said.
Maggie and Sergio are one of an estimated twelve families with children living in the Goose Hollow Tower, according to College Housing Northwest, the company that owns the building and contracts with PSU. In other on-campus housing buildings, 37 families report having dependant children.
In response to feedback from some of these families, the idea of forming a student housing building exclusively for families has been kicked around, said Women’s Resource Center coordinator Aimee Shattuck. “One of the benefits of having a building for families is making it more secure, maybe having a play area.”
Any plans for renovating an already existing building or building a new one are in the conceptual stages, Shattuck said.
John Eckman, associate director of auxiliary services, says that a survey will be sent out in the next two weeks “to really assess what the need is.”
The survey, currently in the editing process, will apply to the entire student body and seek to find out things such as what amenities are most important and what length of leases students would prefer.
“I’d give up a third of the bedroom for a dining area,” Maggie said.
Maggie and Sergio would like to move across the courtyard to the newer and more spacious Goose Hollow Plaza, but with a monthly rent of nearly $1,000 per month, Sergio’s financial aid and income from their part time jobs will not allow it.
In the case of providing family housing, Eckman and Shattuck say that other students have stressed more space and affordability.
“Part of it is trying to make it low-cost for students,” Shattuck said.