For students in the upper grades, the fall semester in Burlington is marked by a competitive apartment hunt, but this year’s frenzy may pose additional challenges due to low vacancy rates and high prices.
After years of incremental rent increases in Burlington, a reassessment of property values in the city will result in higher property taxes for some landlords and, in turn, could have an additional impact on what tenants owe their property. owners. These changes can have a myriad of impacts for student tenants.
In 2018, the City of Burlington’s Office of the Appraiser began leading the City-Wide Reassessment Project to determine the fair market value of properties across the city. The results were distributed to owners on April 8, 2021.
The last reassessment was conducted in 2005, and since then property valuations have fluctuated considerably, forcing the city to conduct this project under guidelines from the Vermont Tax Department, according to the City of Burlington website.
For some students, the rent increases come as a surprise. Junior Garrett Safran said he was surprised to learn his rent would go up if he resigned his lease.
“My landlord explained to me that since Vermont property taxes and monthly property management payments go up, he should increase our rent,” said Safran.
Jessica Hyman, director of the Fair Housing Project at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, said that even before the reassessment, housing costs in Burlington had risen due to an extremely low vacancy rate.
She said there were not enough rental properties in Burlington to accommodate the population, even at affordable rates. Affordable rent is no more than 30% of a person’s income, Hyman said.
“There isn’t enough housing and it gives landlords a choice of who they rent to,” Hyman said. “Sometimes students have an advantage because they can pay slightly higher rents than others in the community, but some students face the same issues. [as low-income individuals or families]. ”
With a rental market already flooded, UVM admitted two of the largest classes in the history of the university, according to an August 25 email from UVM president Suresh Garimella.
Joshua Farley professor of community development and applied economics specializes in ecological economics. He said that this increase in the student body will create a higher demand for housing, but does little to encourage real estate developers to build more housing.
“Every time UVM increases the number of listings, owners can dramatically increase costs,” said Farley. “We have shifted the demand for housing out, and people will demand it at all costs. When rents go up in Burlington, more apartment buildings don’t appear.
Many financially independent students work in their spare time to pay for living expenses, and rising costs may force these students to work longer hours.
According to David Robothom’s 2012 report in Education + Training Journal, some of the consequences for working students are spending less time doing leisure activities, doing less homework, and feeling tired.
Katie Wessles is a social worker in the South Burlington School District. She said burnout is a feeling of exhaustion or resentment brought on by prolonged periods of stress.
“If someone works long hours and those hours don’t improve their quality of life, it could be a stressor for them that could lead to burnout,” she said.
Junior Robert Buhrmeister that the increased cost of living will lead to overwork and impact on the mental well-being of students.
“It’s just the added stress that is going to make university more difficult for the students,” said Buhrmeister. “I know some who are in charge of their rent now and it’s a real problem that concerns them constantly. ”
Graduate student Lindsay Paquette said that despite her full-time job, she still has to take out additional student loans to cover her monthly expenses and that she is still concerned about her academic performance.
“My work schedule has affected my ability to meet classmates for group projects, it makes me feel like an unreliable classmate,” she said. “My program advisor told me that students [in my program] who have off-campus jobs typically end up on academic probation.
In addition to adding stress to students’ social and academic lives, rising housing costs can also exacerbate food insecurity or lack of access to reliable and sufficient amounts of food.
Food insecurity at the UVM is not a new problem.
According to a January 29, 2019 Cynic article, two studies conducted in 2017 by a UVM food insecurity task force found that 17-25% of undergraduates do not have reliable access to health. food.
Nicole Reilly, former UVM dietitian and current head of restaurant sustainability and campus partnership at UVM, said rising rental costs could increase food insecurity among UVM students , especially when associated with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The latest research from the UVM’s Office of Student and Community Relations aligns with [increases in food insecurity caused by the pandemic]”Said Reilly. “The most recent data showed 30% of students were food insecure, so we’re definitely seeing increases. ”
Working students may not have access to the healthy food needed to maintain a learning brain, Reilly said.
With the growing student body putting increased pressure on an already tight rental market, Hyman said UVM should take action.
“The University has a responsibility to do more than it does and to find more housing solutions for students,” she said. “There are many opportunities through their business partnerships and land ownership. It will certainly get worse in the next few years. “
UVM’s Student and Community Relations Office is designed to help students move off campus. The office did not respond to Cynic’s request for comment.
Champlain Valley Economic Opportunities Office (CVOEO) Housing Assistance: Dial (802) 863-6248 ext. 4 for more information or to make an appointment. (County of Chittenden)
CVOEO Fair Housing Project: Call (800) 278-7971.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunities: (802) 951-6290
UVM resources on food insecurity: go.uvm.edu/foodhelp
UVM Rally Cat cabinet: IG & FB @rallycatscupboard
3Squares VT (Instant Benefits): Call 1-800-479-6151 for questions or assistance
Vermont Gas Assistance: Call 1-800-755-0516 for any questions or assistance
Burlington Electric Bed Temporary Energy Assistance Program: (802) 865-7300