Rent to rise for campus residents

Students looking to live in University housing next year can expect their rent rates to sharply rise, with the rent of some units increasing by an average of about 8 percent and as much as 15 percent from this year’s costs.

Students looking to live in University housing next year can expect their rent rates to sharply rise, with the rent of some units increasing by an average of about 8 percent and as much as 15 percent from this year’s costs.

The changes would go into effect in September. Interim Executive Director of Housing and Transportation Services John Eckman said in an open housing meeting in mid-March that the new rates have increased primarily because of inflation and the increases in surcharges–a result of rising gas costs–for goods and services delivered to campus.

While the current projected housing rates released by University Housing state an average increase of 7.45 percent, some residents can expect a much larger increase. Single-unit residents of the Stephen Epler Global Village Living Learning Community will be hit the hardest, facing a rent increase of $340 per term, from $2,170 to $2,510.

Double-occupancy residents of the Ondine’s FYE (First Year Experience) program will see the lowest percentage of rate increases, up 5.5 percent from the previous year, adding $131 per term to their housing bills.

At March’s housing meeting, Eckman said the rates were compiled after looking at the Housing budget, the rise in surcharges, the state of the economy and other factors such as comparison studies of downtown-area apartment buildings.

“On average, most buildings in the area are looking at an 8 percent increase in rent,” Eckman said. He said the goal of University Housing is to provide affordable housing for students of all income levels, and that they try to maintain lower rates than buildings outside Portland State as much as possible.

Housing Northwest, the nonprofit corporation that owns some student housing buildings such as Goose Hollow Tower and the Tiffany Building, have also released their rate estimates for 2008-2009. Grant Anderson, director of Student Housing for Housing Northwest, said that while the rates are not finalized, Housing Northwest expects increases to be anywhere from 4 percent to 4.5 percent.

Eckman said that PSU housing includes amenities not usually incorporated into rent costs for off-campus buildings, such as water, sewer, electricity and garbage, and also includes some luxury utilities, such as high-speed Internet and cable television. In the past, these utilities have not always been included in student housing costs, but next year many of them will.

The St. Helen’s Building and the Stratford Building, for example, previously did not include cable Internet or phone lines in room costs. PSU Housing announced in March that it plans to include these costs in all student housing rents in September. This change will add an additional $45 per term to housing costs for students living in or moving into those buildings.

One of the buildings that will have the most changes next year will be West Hall. Proposed rate increases for the hall are 14.73 percent for single units and 13.60 percent for double units, which includes electricity charges.

Currently, all West Hall residents are responsible for setting up and maintaining their own contracts with PGE, but next year they won’t be. Eckman said the new proposed rates add $162 per term for West Hall units, which he states works out to less than the $71 average price per month West Hall students are now paying for electricity.

In the coming months, students will see many other non-rent-related changes to University Housing. Washer and dryer units in all buildings will be switched over from a coin-operated system to a card system, with machines situated around campus for students to recharge their laundry cards. Laundry machine costs will not rise.

Some other changes include three new meal plans for students to choose from. Victor’s, Ondine’s dining hall, will also extend its hours and will now open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. daily. Additionally, all two-room housing units on campus will be reserved for students with families living with them. There are also plans in the works for the addition of a community kitchen on the ground floor of the Montgomery Building this summer, as well as maintenance to the Blackstone’s water system.

Following on the heels of these announcements comes recontracting month. From April 1 to April 30, students have the opportunity to either reclaim their current room or opt for a room elsewhere on campus. Recontracting is done through the Housing Web site at Housing officials say they will be sending out recontracting offers in May via e-mail.