Santa Cruz, CA

Students struggling to find housing turn to Places4Students

Grace Goes on an Adventure

It's always difficult to be on the housing search in advance of a new school term — but for many UC Santa Cruz students, the search is downright abysmal.

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A shot of the redwoods in Henry Cowell State Park, close to UC Santa Cruz's campus.Richard James / Unsplash

As many college campuses have announced a return to in-person instruction, the same is true of this school upon the Pacific Ocean. With UCSC's fall term starting in just a few weeks, many students have rushed to Facebook groups, Craigslist, and the like to find any potential housing options — but have come upon a more tumultuous and expensive housing market than years prior.

With the combination of a 16% increase in median rent for one-bedrooms, the continued problems surrounding CZU survivors receiving funding for rebuilding, and many Silicon Valley workers moving just over the hill with remote work, UCSC's students have stiff competition. Many have found it difficult to not only find safe but also affordable housing, with some resorting to sharing rooms or "doubling up" in spaces meant for fewer people. Even as UCSC remains the school in the UC system with the most on-campus housing, the school is unable to house all 18,600 undergraduate and graduate students.

As such, students have turned to another source: Places4Students.com

The company, founded in 2003, specializes in providing colleges and universities throughout North America with an off-campus housing service. Since its launch, the company has worked with 160 colleges and universities, assisting over 100,000 landlords and property management companies to rent to students and continuing to grow in unique visitors year-over-year, with an estimated 14+ million yearly views.

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A landscape photo of the infamous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a tourist attraction highly attended by new UCSC students.Yeshaya Barron / Unsplash

In advance of the coming quarter, the company has made pleas with local Santa Cruzan homeowners to consider renting out rooms for students, helping to alleviate the already stressful start to the new school year.

Patrick Newell, senior manager of student life for the Algonquin Students' Association, calls Places4Students a great online portal to find community.

“They provide students and landlords with an in-depth online profile of each listing, including amenities, rates, and photos," he said. "They have helped provide a connection to the rental market that students have been looking for."

While some locals have begun to take charge in offering rooms and spaces for students, others have seemingly taken advantage of the difficult situation. As senior Keller Lahr told Lookout Santa Cruz earlier this month, some landlords and property managers have started bidding wars among students, leading to a tense situation for all involved.

“I feel like if UCSC was to offer more virtual options, that would help to solve the problem,” Lahr said.

The fall quarter officially begins on Thursday, Sept. 23.

Follow Grace on Twitter for more Bay Area updates: @grace_m_stetson.

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Hi there! I'm Grace Stetson, an affordability correspondent and freelance journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I recently moved back to my hometown after a few years of living in Chicago, IL, and Brooklyn, NYC, and there's a lot more to see than I originally expected. With that, I'm going out and about from as far south as Monterey to as far north as Marin to find you the best hidden gems, backwoods trails, and delicious eats across the Bay. Come join me on this adventure!

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