Georgetown University does not guarantee housing to all senior undergraduates, leaving the majority of seniors to find their own housing options. Yet students are often left feeling unprepared for the transition to living off campus.
Hoya Housing sends out emails to freshmen, sophomores and juniors about on-campus housing processes each year. The university, however, does not widely distribute information to upperclassmen about the off-campus housing search. As a result, most students have to navigate the process on their own.
Since Georgetown does not have the capacity to house all students on campus, the university has a responsibility to provide students with more information about moving off campus and connect them with resources to help facilitate the search.
Georgetown has 7,459 undergraduate students, but Georgetown’s on-campus housing can only accommodate about 5,400, according to Office of Residential Living Assistant Director of Assignments Krista Haxton in an email to The Hoya. The lack of capacity in housing on campus causes the university to rely at least 1,000 students to live off-campus, yet Georgetown offers little support to its students in the search for off-campus housing.
Though the Office of Neighborhood Life offers support to students searching for off-campus housing, few students are aware of their existence, according to Olivia Certa (COL ’21). Certa does not recall receiving any information from the university about when or where to start looking.
“Georgetown provides basically no resources or information about off-campus housing. Almost every place we looked at we found through researching ourselves,” Certa wrote in a message to The Hoya.
The only Georgetown-promoted resource she used was the outdated Hoya House Hunters spreadsheet, which can be found on the ONL website and lists many properties as available despite leases already having been signed through the 2020-21 school year.
ONL has an off-campus listings site, a Hoya Living Guide document on off-campus renting rights and responsibilities and monthly programming with the Office of the Tenant Advocate to assist students with landlord and lease questions, according to ONL Director Cory Peterson in an email to The Hoya. These resources are not widely advertised to students, however, at any point in the housing process.
After receiving emails from Hoya Housing detailing deadlines and processes for on-campus housing options for their first three years at Georgetown, students can reasonably expect to at least be notified about the resources that exist for facilitating the off-campus housing search.
ONL’s resources have the potential to help students navigate the off-campus housing process, but these resources are useless if students do not know about them. Certa wrote to The Hoya that she was not aware of these ONL resources at any point in the off-campus housing search.
Many students are signing a lease for the first time when they live off campus senior year, and it is difficult to navigate the rental process without information about when and where to start looking for properties. Moreover, off-campus housing in the Georgetown neighborhood fills up quickly. Landlord Judith McCaffrey owns two homes in Burleith, each housing six people, that she exclusively leases to Georgetown undergraduates.
“The houses rent a year in advance. For example, this year, both houses were rented in September 2019 for the school year beginning in August 2020,” McCaffrey wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Since students need to be prepared to sign a lease by fall of their junior year, Georgetown should first notify students about the process no later than the end of students’ sophomore year. The university should provide rising juniors with a timeline for those choosing to move off-campus senior year, and students should be directly connected with the resources that ONL offers. Given that the university cannot house all of its seniors on campus, it has a responsibility to at least widely publicize the resources that already exist for students planning to move off campus senior year.
Georgetown should better acquaint students with the off-campus housing search process during their sophomore and junior years to mitigate stress and confusion around the process. ONL took the time to make resources available to students; they should at least make the effort to let students know about them.
The Hoya’s editorial board is composed of six students and chaired by the opinion editor. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual member of the board.