Apartment closures, other problems lead to stressful signup for housing

Signup weekend proved stressful and disappointing for students who were expecting to retain their apartment or move into the apartments, as the university is closing several on-campus apartments, forcing some students to move back into the dorms or spend much more than they had expected to live in the University Village next year.

The department of residence halls has changed the designation of apartment building 34 for a service project known as “Strive.” This decision prompts current tenants to vacate at the end of the term, and reduced other students’ chances of getting an apartment next year.

Additionally, about 25 apartments in another building are closing due to old ceilings, with no plans for repairs.

“They will sit empty. We’re not going to reoccupy those buildings,” said Jonathan Baldessari, associate director of residence halls.

During the last few years residents have had problems with their ceilings crumbling, especially after the rough hurricane season. Housing repaired half of the affected apartments two summers ago, but left the rest as they were.

Now, rather than follow through with the necessary repairs, the department has decided to close them down and probably never use them again, according to Baldessari.

Melissa Fitzgerald, a senior and current resident in building 34, said she received a letter in the mail about a month ago informing her that she would not be able to keep her apartment next year. However, she was guaranteed a spot in a different apartment. What the letter failed to tell her was that she could not bring her friends with her when she went to register for an apartment.

“I was never informed that my friends couldn’t get into the apartment with me,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald and four friends had planned to sign up for an apartment, but a combination of miscommunication from housing and a shortage of apartments left them hanging on sign up day.

“We are all going to live in University Village, but in separate apartments,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m not annoyed that we’ll be living in University Village, but it’s going to cost me $4,000 more than if I had gotten into the regular apartments. As a senior, this is not very fair.”

Many students encountered similar problems when they realized that the on-campus apartments were already filled up early Saturday morning due to the shortage created by closing several apartments.

“My friends and I were planning to get an apartment,” Meredith Cox, freshman, said. “Mahoney was our second choice and we were shocked to find that Mahoney, Pearson and Eaton were full as well. So now we’re stuck in Stanford again.”

Students weren’t expecting this drastic shortage of apartments, especially with the new University Village opening up.

The UM Neighbors Homeowners Association (UMNHA) encouraged the construction of University Village, as its members felt it would help solve the housing shortage problem. Now that the university is closing many of the on-campus apartments, UMNHA members said that students are transferring over to the Village, leaving the problem unsolved.

“I thought [University Village] was going to ease the shortage. I was never aware that they’d take away housing on campus,” Barbara Fronczak, President of UMNHA, said. “They got themselves into this predicament.”

Baldessari said that the students currently living at the Holiday Inn are also moving back on campus next year, which also lends to the shortage problem.

“We expected two to three hundred students would move to University Village next year, and their spaces would be filled by the Holiday Inn students,” Baldessari said.

With these extra students, along with the incoming freshman class moving into on-campus housing, closing off a number of apartments has added to housing shortages, despite University Village’s grand opening.

Other students are dissatisfied with their housing assignments for next year.

“The housing shortage is the university’s fault,” said Jordan Gerstner, who will spend his sophomore year living in Stanford. “For the amount of money I pay, I shouldn’t have to live in a prison cell.”

Taylor Pashley can be contacted at t.pashley@umiami.edu.