Local News

Housing Crunch to Squeeze UNC-CH Students

Posted April 25, 2005 9:26 a.m. EDT

— Students at the University of North Carolina campus here face a housing crunch because of increased demand for rooms and the coming closing of a 1,000-student dormitory for renovations.

Some students have been turned away from university dorms, and some will live in a distant apartment complex that used to house married students.

A recent lottery for university housing saw thousands of students jamming the online sign-up to grab any rooms they could.

``I'm still in limbo, waiting to find out,'' said freshman Alex Farrell, who needs a room with air conditioning because of severe allergies. ``They tell me they might be able to fix me up, but not my roommate.''

Each year, the university shuts down a residence hall or two for renovations. It usually manages to shift students to other dorms. For the next two years, though, the university will lose the 10-story Morrison Residence Hall.

At the same time, demand for dorm rooms is up, 200 more current students asking for on-campus housing for fall.

Add to that an expected surge in freshmen for fall, a phenomenon that could be called the ``national championship effect.''

In 1993, the last time UNC-Chapel Hill's men's basketball team won a national title, dorms were overloaded. Several hundred students were affected.

The housing department sets aside space for a certain number of first-year students. The rest of the rooms go to current students, with seniors, then juniors, getting first choice.

``We're right now in a squeeze with our rising sophomores,'' said Larry Hicks, director of housing and residential education. ``The priority list puts them at the end.''

Hicks said 120 to 130 students who want dorm rooms will be forced into the private housing market in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. That will probably mean they'll pay more.

The good news is that the room shortage should last only one year, Hicks said.

The university is building five new apartment buildings to accommodate 900 undergraduates. The new complexes should open in fall 2006.