Can student housing become a possibility for UCC within the next few years? Many students certainly hope so. Due to Douglas County’s problems with low wages, high prices for housing and a shortage of rental homes, students struggle finding a suitable place to live.
“Our low-income residents have a 1 percent rental vacancy rate. Really it is closer to zero, as we have long wait lists for our properties,” Nick Noyes, Communications Specialist for NeighborWorks Umpqua said. UCC administrators recently reviewed the possibility of purchasing the old DHS building on Harvard Avenue in Roseburg to be turned into an off-campus form of student housing; however, the purchase was considered too expensive to renovate due partly to UCC’s need to work on a new Industrial Arts building to fix problems with current facility failures.
Steve Loosley, chair of UCC’s board of education, explained that the old Harvard office building needed to be gutted out and the plumbing completely replaced to even be suitable for student housing. He also described the antique glass in the building that he would regret getting rid of. More importantly, the engineering and foundation board deemed the purchase too expensive to be worth the trouble.
Loosley understands students’ housing concerns, however. “The housing crisis is a huge problem,” he said. “It is a priority for the board, and we are nowhere near giving up.” In fact, one of the board’s four priorities for the 2018-2019 school year is to “engage the college and community to alleviate the student housing shortage.”
The board is looking for other suitable places for student housing, and more importantly, how to fund it. Loosley explained that off-site housing would more be more suitable to students due to the access to more amenities. He worries that there wouldn’t be much to do for students living on campus, but with student housing downtown, “at least students could get a decent pizza,” plus have access to downtown Roseburg’s forms of entertainment.
The board has also considered building on campus. Loosley gave an estimate that it would require a “$3 million dollar down payment.” Due to this, the board’s housing committee “pressed paused,” while they “quietly look at other options,” Loosley said.
Loosley did disclose that he plans to meet with an “outside firm to discuss an ambitious plan to explore further options for building within the next couple of weeks. While we won’t get housing for our school soon, the board is doing their best to look at new options, and to keep student housing a priority.”
The board has several other budget priorities that include the “development of both construction and financial plans to build the new the Industrial Technology Building and renovate Lockwood Hall” along with weighing the cost of proposed and future programs while supporting the development of the athletic program.