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April 26, 1999

Community Rentals gears up for another busy year

By Francine Tyler

This coming year promises to be another tough one for students looking for off-campus housing, and the Community Rentals Office has geared up to make their search a little bit easier.

More workshops for students and increased mailings to property owners are just a few of the initiatives Community Rentals has planned or already under way.

"The rental market is still very tight, it's highly competitive for students, and the inventory has shrunk," said Wanda Amos, marketing/Community Rentals coordinator. Last year, the vacancy rate in the city of Santa Cruz was 0.8 percent, and it's expected to remain the same or drop lower this coming year.

Nonetheless, the number of house, apartment, condo, and room listings in the Community Rentals Office is up 19 percent in the past year. Amos attributes the increase both to stepped-up outreach and the elimination of fees that property owners paid to list their properties up until two years ago.

Many students are already looking for places they can live in the fall, Amos said. In addition to keeping lists of available rentals, Community Rentals is helping these students by offering more sessions of its informational workshop, where students can learn about housing-search techniques, tenant/landlord agreements, and the rental process. The workshop has also been videotaped to make it easier for students to fit it into their schedules.

Students receive a certificate for attending the workshop or viewing it on videotape, which can help them get an edge in applying for a rental, said Amos.

A new ten-minute taped tour is also available to educate students about the Community Rentals Office and its offerings--from how to read the rental listings to where they can find copies of local ordinances and laws.

"Students need to do everything they can to find a place to live, and they need all the information they can get," said Jan Kennedy, associate coordinator for Community Rentals. "We can provide the information, but they have to do the really hard work.

She estimates that 45 percent of the student body will use the office's resources during this academic year, and projects that total visits to the office will reach 30,000 for the year.

In addition to its work with students, Community Rentals is also reaching out to property owners and managers.

An annual mailing to 400 property management and real estate companies, apartment complexes, and landlords will be augmented this year by a 500- to 600-piece mailing specifically targeted to people who have listed properties with the office in the past, said Amos.

In addition, the office plans to run an advertising insert in an August issue of the Sentinel highlighting alumni and encouraging people to rent to UCSC students.

"Last year, we got about 60 listings off that advertisement," said Amos. "Not only the listings but also the public relations and community awareness the campus received from it made the ad very worthwhile."

Community Rentals is also continuing with its Slug Housing Partnership program. Through partnerships between UCSC and local hotels and motels, the program helps students find lodging for fall and winter quarters, when demand is greatest. The Community Rentals Office has already signed up 21 hotels and motels for the program this year, up from 18 last year, with 234 rooms available and the potential to house some 400 students.

Two hostels on campus will also help students get through the housing crunch: The Village House Hunters Hostel, from June 16 to September 15, and the UCSC Student Hostel in Hagar Court Community Room, from September 7 to October 3. The Village hostel opened last summer for the first time and costs $18 a night. The UCSC Student Hostel, which has operated for the last three years, is free to all students.

For more information, go to the Community Rentals home page at www.ucsc.edu/housing/housing/offcampus.html, e-mail comrent@housing.ucsc.edu, or call (831) 459-4435.

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