The Housing Crisis Among College Students By: Zeena Haitham Hamed

Housing Insecurity has become rampant in college towns. “At the University of California, Santa Barbara, this crisis peaked in the summer of 2021. Students, who were expecting a continued closure of university facilities due to the pandemic, learned they would be required to be on campus in the fall.” Many students had not secured housing for the 2021-2022 school year, and resorted to renting rooms in stranger’s houses or even living out of their cars or vans.

The cause of housing insecurity at this institution, and many other universities across the country, are:

(1)   increased rates of acceptance of students, in the pursuit of more tuition revenue of course, 

(2)   rising inflation rates across the country, making obtaining affordable housing a competitive sport, and 

(3) the simple greed of the absentee landlord, who takes advantage of a student’s necessity to secure housing.

The proposed solution to this housing insecurity in my university was the Dormzilla Munger Hall. This dormitory would house over 4000 students, over 90% of them in rooms with no windows or outside light. This proposal received country-wide outrage and criticism; yet another example of the corporate greed and dehumanization that students must shoulder while in pursuit of higher education.

A student’s acquisition of housing is not the end of their housing crisis. I’ve encountered instances where students end up with bedrooms converted from garages, living rooms, and even closets, with two or more roommates. Sharing cramped quarters with near strangers compounds the discomfort, often overlooked as an expected part of the college experience. These unconventional living conditions are the antithesis of the stable living conditions that are conducive to learning but also impact the overall well-being of students, emphasizing the urgent need for educational institutions to address the housing crisis.

As I write this, My Isla Vista apartment is riddled with problems. There are the ever-present mold outbreaks on the ceiling of our bathroom and kitchen. There are multiple leaks in my bedroom ceiling and window, dripping yellow rain water onto my bed and my roommate’s desk!

As a college student, what choice do we have but to live in these under-regulated and under-renovated apartments and houses? Absentee landlords let property quality diminish over time without consequence, leaving college-aged tenants in dangerous health situations and uncomfortable mental health situations in which they have no choice but to wait for repairs to their living quarters that should have been actively checked and resolved.


Raines, Shirley. “UCSB Housing Students in Crisis.” KCRW, Accessed 7 Feb. 2024, ents