Students attempting to rent in Humboldt county face a huge number of hurdles. From exorbitant prices to restrictions on pets and activities that you are allowed to do on the premises, many students find themselves struggling to find adequate housing while in school and after they graduate. This can leave them faced with the choice of spending huge amounts on unstable or undesirable housing, or dropping out and returning home, and with the risk of COVID-19 the search hasn’t gotten any easier.
The largest hurdle is money. Many students are living on their own for the first time and might not know what to do, what their rights are, or how to effectively find a place. They may not even qualify for a place, as they might not have any real credit to speak of. When they do, students can be left spending all their money that could otherwise be spent on supplies for school just to continue to be able to attend.
According to HSU student Karlee Jackson, this can get even harder when accounting for pets or service animals, particularly if a person needs more space than a room in a stranger’s house.
“it’s frustrating all around, but usually it comes down to the price of a place and how if you want to get a room in someone’s house it’s really expensive.” Jackson said. “For a little more you can get a place for yourself, but if you have an animal it’s really hard. Or you need really good credit, and for students, you might have none.”
Another can be the difficulty of actually getting to an apartment as a student. Typically renters are expected to actually go to the property before they rent it, which can be a problem for students coming from very far away. The cost in both time and money to come all the way to Humboldt County without any guarantee that they will actually be able to get the place that they hope to rent can be extremely restrictive, And there could possibly be charges even before the prospective renter gets there. HSU however does provide services to assist students in finding a place nearby.
Chant’e Marie Catt, HSU’s off campus housing liaison, helps students get into contact with landlords and work out an equitable deal with them, along with giving students walk through tours of properties over Zoom and providing information about what to do in order to get a property that they may otherwise not be aware of.
“As far as helping students, the biggest thing is sharing knowledge and being there and making sure the info is out there.” Catt said. “That helps students understand so much better what they need when they have one on one meetings for information.”
Many students who do rent find themselves living in rented rooms, possibly with other families and students. While this is currently undesirable for a lot of people due to the pandemic and the difficulties of keeping track of what your fellow renters are doing, it happens and can be preferable to some. Sonya Nichols and her husband Mike until recently rented out rooms in their large Victorian-style home to at least 6 students, mostly international.
“Having them from an international family and learning about their cultures, we totally enjoyed it.” Nichols said “My husband’s mother had the home we had for 27 years, and after she passed away we bought the home and did the same thing as far as housing students”