Affordable, Safe, and Sustainable Housing
Rents are skyrocketing. Young people are scrambling to sign leases over a year in advance. At the same time, landlords are ignoring tenant requests. We are in a housing crisis in the greater campus area. Put simply -- that isn't right.
On a University-side, the campus continues to enroll more students than our City has capacity to house. This allows landlords to raise rents to keep up with the rising demand. Meanwhile, the UW-Madison Office of Financial Aid believes students can pay $914 per bed and that can still be considered affordable.
On a city-level, the City of Madison has zero plans to address the student housing crisis. Student housing does not come up at all in the entire City of Madison Comprehensive plan. In the entire City of Madison Comprehensive Plan, student housing doesn’t even appear once. This means that the city thus far has taken little to no responsibility to address the housing crisis in the greater campus area.
As Alder, I would institute a three-part plan to address our housing crisis. (1) Codify a comprehensive planning framework on student housing, (2) Collaborate with city, campus, and community organizations to create affordable student housing (3) Preserve and improve housing for underserved communities. My plan is to work with the University to enroll an amount of students that doesn't create a housing crisis, and to work with the Office of Financial Aid to bring the "affordable rent" number down to something actually affordable.
Safe Housing for Student Organizations
Investing in academic buildings should not be at the cost of unhousing students. Our students in Zoe Bayliss, Mecha de Madison, and Wunk Sheek deserve more.
The University notified these students that their houses will be demolished to make way for the new L&S Building, and offered no alternative to new housing until fierce pushback from student groups. Zoe Bayliss has been able to find a new location thanks to the community, however Mecha de Madison and Wunk Sheek still have no viable options.
I want to work with the University to ensure these and future student groups are guaranteed permanent housing and do not have to fear being torn down for a new fancy academic building.
Campus and Community Partnerships for Housing
UW-Madison has time and time again put-off responsibility for on-campus housing—a decision significantly harming our students. This year, over 1400 returning students are waitlisted for on-campus housing, out of 2400 who applied. Those fortunate enough to receive on-campus housing are shoved into tripled, quadrupled, even quintupled dorm rooms. Students living in on-campus housing are understandably terrified of finding a place to live for the upcoming year.
I intend to tackle this issue by acting as a liaison between campus administration and the city to support a planning framework to address the student housing crisis. Advocating for the reduction of dorm prices will lead to off-campus housing decreasing their prices as well.
Landlords set their rents based on where the University sets their dorm rates. To bring the base rent down, dorm rates need to go down.
However, when the University sets their housing rates at nearly $13,000 per student for the academic year, then nothing prevents landlords from jacking up their prices.
The University provides no centralized funding to UW Housing, and forces housing to charge students high rates to offset their costs. We need to get the University to centralize their funding for dorms, and allow portions of their $3.4 billion revenue to be used to offset the cost of dorms for students.