With the prospect of distancing procedures still being in place by this fall, college and universities across the country are trying to decide what COVID-19 housing space should look like.
The Association of College and University Housing Officers, based in Columbus, Ohio, has announced the formation of a work group that will be tasked with drawing up dormitory and student apartment recommendations for schools of all sizes.
Some industry analysts have suggested that the student housing space of tradition, which has often seen such configurations as four residential units and one shared bathroom, may be going by the wayside.
Those same analysts say that building plans for new housing will probably emphasize one unit and one bathroom per student, a change in housing size that could lead to an increase in the cost of construction.
Current student housing spaces, meanwhile, are largely empty. According to a survey conducted by ACHO, colleges and universities have seen losses ranging from $1.9 million in housing fees for schools with 3,000 beds or less to just under $19 million for institutions with 7,500 beds or more.
The survey, which received responses from 119 schools, also indicated that 20 percent of those institutions have decided to decrease their normal capacity for this coming fall, while 25 percent they are planning to maintain normal capacity.
A large 48 percent of the schools said they had not yet made a decision.
The pressure on schools has been made even more complicated by students who have initiated suits demanding a recovery of housing fees. “It’s unclear how judges will rule in these cases,” notes Forbes, “but across the country institutions will likely have a hard time balancing their budgets in such a tumultuous time.”
The ACHO Future of Housing work group is expected to announce its recommendations by early summer.
By Garry Boulard
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