There is a housing shortage at Yale, and it’s impacting New Haven residents. Yale’s class sizes have increased in five out of the past six years, which makes it much harder for Yale students to secure accommodations, be it on or off campus. If more students are to be welcomed into the Yale community each year, it is imperative that housing options reflect this growing student body. This could manifest as a streamlined housing placement system, more dorming options, or a demystified off-campus housing process. Whatever reasons Yale cites to explain their burgeoning class sizes — from more tuition to a broader, more diverse student body—these positive effects are best felt if the current housing shortage is first addressed.
We as the Editorial Board call on Yale to centralize the housing process, particularly around annex housing. Since colleges use different timelines for their housing process, these annex housing decisions are typically not made until after every college completes its internal process. This delay could be avoided by standardizing the date all Yale students have to declare housing intentions so residential colleges over capacity can work with other colleges with space or Old Campus facilities to inform their students of annex options earlier. We greatly value the residential college system, but demand more transparency of information if Yale creates conditions that upset our housing traditions.
In order to rectify part of the housing crisis Yale must work to streamline its housing process. This would require Yale to centralize the housing and annexation process so that students know what options are available to them well in advance of the actual housing draw. By better informing students it is possible that students would be less likely to move off campus unnecessarily. On top of this, by centralizing the annexation process students who can’t find space in their own college would be able to relocate to other colleges that have extra space. This is especially important since even with the current housing crisis some residential colleges still have rooms open. For example, Pierson College has numerous rooms that should be doubles and are being used as singles or are empty entirely. This is because Pierson itself has extra room and typically only accepts annexed students from Davenport College. We are calling on Yale to change this practice and allow students to be annexed to any college with extra room in an attempt to force fewer people off campus.
The deleterious effects of Yale’s ill-prepared plans for upperclassmen housing extend beyond campus and into the New Haven community as well. As students are forced to live off-campus, a phenomenon that has only grown in accordance with Yale’s increasingly large class sizes, more and more of these students will live in apartment complexes that traditionally housed only or primarily New Haven residents.This housing comes at a cost: increasing student demand for Yale-owned housing could provide an incentive for Yale to buy up further property in New Haven, actively expanding their influence and taking housing options away from New Haven residents. These Yale students, either by virtue of their generally higher socioeconomic status or by the housing stipend Yale pays to students living off-campus, can generally afford higher rent prices than the average New Haven resident. This implores landlords to raise their prices and cater to Yale students, whom they know can afford those prices. As a result, housing becomes increasingly unaffordable to New Haven residents, with rent gouging pushing out New Haveners to make room for Yalies.
It’s clear, then, that Yale’s failure to provide adequate on-campus housing doesn’t just serve to negatively impact its students. It has real, material consequences for the people of New Haven and actively contributes to housing crises in the city.
One proposed solution to the housing crisis involves the expansion of the university, both in terms of on-campus living spaces and the creation of new housing in New Haven. Though seemingly logical fixes, these infrastructural developments must be judged for the potential ramifications on New Haven residents they cause. Firstly, building more on-campus housing such as the addition of more residential colleges or the growth of existing ones allows the University to benefit from an increase in tax-exempt property. This, in turn, raises property taxes for New Haven residents and deters money from public investment needed to fund other aspects of the city like schools, transit or parks. Similarly, even if the University were to buy an off-campus property that is not tax-exempt, this raises worries about the increasing interference of Yale in city space. Acting as more than just a spacial burden, the continuous expansion of Yale-affiliated buildings into New Haven widens the sphere of influence that actors such as Yale Security and Yale police are permitted to have. Indeed, while we don’t mean to prematurely shut down all prospects of expansion, we find it worth exploring alternative solutions that don’t pose the issue of “overstepping.” Being conscious of the impacts that our presence has on New Haven and its residents is essential for confronting the housing shortage issue in such a way that does not place us, students, as the sole focus of the conversation.