In response to widespread complaints about off-campus housing options, students and administrators at Yale’s graduate and professional schools are taking action.
As part of a broader effort to improve housing options for graduate students — 80 percent of whom live in off-campus housing — the Graduate Student Assembly organized the first annual housing fair on Thursday evening at the Yale School of Medicine. The housing fair took place several months after Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews ’83 LAW ’86 convened a Graduate and Professional Student Housing Advisory Committee to examine housing problems and propose potential solutions.
Several hundred graduate and professional school students attended the fair, where 17 landlords with New Haven properties set up booths to advertise their available rental spaces.
Wendy Xiao GRD ’17, a member of GSA who organized the fair, said New Haven is one of the most difficult places to rent in the country due to its low vacancy rate. Because of the limited availability of housing, Graduate and Professional Student Senate President Steven Reilly GRD ’15 said some landlords are less responsive to tenants’ needs.
Xiao said the housing fair aimed to educate graduate students about reliable housing options. She added that most of the landlords present at the fair were invited by GSA because they had good reputations in New Haven.
“I want students to be cognizant of the renters and to know that there are good landlords out there,” she said. “They just might not be as prominent.”
During the fall, the GSA and the GPSS compiled students’ complaints about maintenance, security and landlord relationships. Reilly said administrators were responsive to the complaints and are discussing the issues in the newly formed committee.
In January, student representatives and administrators also met with Pike International, a major New Haven landlord, to discuss students’ complaints.
“Meeting face to face helped a lot,” said GSA Chair Brian Dunican GRD ’15. “The aggregation of complaints let them see what was happening and had an impact.”
After the meeting, Pike International issued a letter to students promising to improve maintenance and return students’ security deposits.
Graduate students interviewed said they attended the fair to learn more about lesser-known apartment and housing options that could improve their living arrangements.
“It’s hard, as a med school student, to know about housing options,” Risa Wong MED ’14 said. “There wasn’t anything like this before to get to know the options.”
Alex Luryi MED ’14 said he hopes to find housing that will accommodate additional roommates, preferably in a safer location than his current apartment.
Representatives from three new apartment complexes that will soon be available to students were also present at the fair. One of these new buildings, Winchester Lofts, broke ground in September.
Forest City Property Manager Tracy Goguen said the group decided to build in New Haven after learning about the low vacancy rate in the city. She said she believes the Winchester Lofts will appeal to Yale students because of the high quality of the apartments and the building’s prominent location in Science Park.
Forbes recently ranked New Haven the eighth worst city to rent in the country due in part to its 4.1 percent vacancy rate.