• August 20, 2019

Housing options slim for OC students - Odessa American: Education

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Housing options slim for OC students

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Posted: Tuesday, August 6, 2019 4:26 pm

Odessa College’s student population has outgrown campus housing facilities and students stacked on the waitlist have few affordable alternatives available in the city.

OC Director of Student Housing Jeremie Middleton said the two student housing facilities, Century Commons and Wrangler Hall, accommodate 238 people, but that number shrinks drastically after about 200 beds are set aside for student athletes who are required to live on campus.

Middleton said as few as 32 beds can be available for non-athlete students once housing staff members also settle into the facilities.

Student housing had 65 people on the waitlist at the beginning of July and 17 people are still waiting just before the fall semester begins on Aug. 21.

Kim McKay, vice president for student services and enrollment management, said many students are forced to make other arrangements if spots do not open up on campus or transition to being an online student as a result of the limited choices locally for renters.

“Everyone knows that it’s crazy expensive out here and they know that housing on campus is a viable, inexpensive option,” Middleton said.

The average rent for an apartment in Odessa, according to RENTCafe, is $1,380 for an 811 square foot apartment, a 15 percent increase compared to last year when the average rent was $1,204.

The RENTCafe website states there are significantly more apartments available in Odessa above the $1,500 range than there are apartments that cost less than $700, 36 percent compared to 3 percent respectively.

Middleton said at OC a four-bedroom apartment at 915 square feet cost about $2,900 per semester, about $645 a month per person, and includes utilities, Wi-Fi, cable TV, laundry fees and 19 meals per week.

“I would love to have more housing options for the students,” he said, “at least 100 more beds.”

Middleton said enrollment has continued to climb and making sure students have a home is a priority.

Odessa College’s annual unduplicated enrollment for 2018 was 9,086 students.

“Some of the students we’re pulling in are not from the Midland-Odessa area and they don’t know what it’s like to pay $1,000 a month for a studio apartment,” Middleton said.

Enrollment figures from last fall show 22,286 students across the Permian Basin attended Odessa College, the University of Texas Permian Basin, Midland College or Howard College.

OC reportedly had 30 percent of those students attend their institution; UTPB had 26 percent, followed by Midland College with 24 percent and Howard College with 20 percent of the student population.

“As we continue to grow, space utilization is key,” OC Executive Director of Administration and Human Resources Ken Zartner said. “Our goal is to get to 10,000 students (enrolled in a single fall semester) and the only thing stopping us right now is space realistically.”

Vision 2030 is the next phase of campus expansion projects estimated to bring $75 million worth of improvements to OC in the coming years using funds from their own budget, which McKay said will include more housing options that are desperately needed.

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