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Housing shortage impact on students

Action News Now looks at the impact of Chico's housing shortage on college students.

Posted: Feb. 21, 2019 9:26 AM
Updated: Feb. 21, 2019 9:56 AM

Chico continues to grapple with a housing shortage, and students in the college town say they're hoping city leaders have answers to help solve the crisis. 

Alanna Pere and Nate Rettinger are among thousands of students in Chico hunting for a place to live the next school year.

"How am I supposed to find somewhere to live and continue my education up here?" Pere says.

She currently pays $500 a month for a four-bedroom apartment in Chico. The Butte College student's lease ends this July, and she's hoping to find an affordable option that won't break the bank. 

"College kids won't pay as much as people who don't have a home anymore," Rettinger adds.  

Rettinger says collectively, he and his four other roommates pay around $1500 dollars to rent their apartment. The Chico State student tells us, his landlord had initially said Rettinger could renew his lease through the summer. But after the Camp Fire, the deal is off the table. 

Chico is under pressure to shelter thousands of more people after the Camp Fire. The city's population increased by 20%. 

Action News Now reporter Stephanie Lin asked Chico Mayor Randall Stone about a possible plan of action to support students. 

"I can't cordon a section off for students and say, 'we are going to isolate you from the competitiveness of the market,'" Stone responded. "It would be illegal for us to segment them. That's like saying, 'we have a special problem with Asian-Americans, so we want to create a special Asian-American set-aside for housing." 

The mayor adds the university is a major player with students finding housing.

"Their directive is to consolidate and use as many housing units as possible, as quickly as possible," Stone said. 

The city has put in an emergency ordinance that restricts rent increases, which cannot be more than 10% per year.

We took those words to Chico State University's Director of Off-campus Student Services, Dan Herbert. 

"At this point in February, students should not be having trouble finding housing," Herbert says. "If someone at Butte College or Chico State are saying they can't find housing, then they just aren't looking hard enough."

Chico State directed us to this website that lists property management companies with options for students. Herbert says the site can be a useful tool students can use to find their next home.

"Even with the inventory that's been more limited with the fire, we still have places for $400-$500 a bedroom," Herbert adds. 

Action News Now called several of the listings on the website for a check on available units. No one would speak on camera but all said the market is highly competitive and that inventory is running low.

Herbert acknowledged that while inventory is available, it is important for students to do their research and to move quickly to ensure they have a place to live for the next school year. He says he is also happy to offer services to help Butte College students.

Both the university and neighborhood property managers advise students to lock down a lease before spring break, find roomates early, and to double up.

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