On Thursday, March 17, the university hosted a meeting between the town of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech students, faculty and staff on “the affordable housing puzzle.”
Matt Hanratty, assistant to the town manager of Blacksburg, presented the town’s strategies to expand affordable rentals and home ownership. The presentation also included increasing the availability of homes for non-student residents and allocating locations specifically for students’ off-campus housing.
One concern among the Virginia Tech audience was the difficulty for students to afford off-campus housing both on low income or with parental assistance.
“For graduate students on stipends or student loans, affordable housing is becoming harder to find. The University has no immediate plans for building new graduate housing on any of the campuses,” said Phil Miskovic, a Ph.D. student with the Center for Public Administration and Public Affairs and the current graduate student representative to the Board of Visitors. “It is necessary for stakeholders to collaborate to find solutions to affordable graduate housing for each campus.”
Alice Fox, a student in the Science and Technology Studies Ph.D. program and the vice president of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, expressed her frustrations on the lack of inexpensive quality off-campus housing for Virginia Tech students.
“Students shouldn’t be seen as a supply and demand problem. They’re human beings, and we need to look at them as people in vulnerable positions, especially as we start to get more community members who are from marginalized or low income backgrounds,” Fox said. “We can have nice things like full kitchens and good amenities without having to pay a thousand dollars per room.”
Hanratty concluded the meeting by stating his sympathy with Fox’s concerns, and that the town of Blacksburg was working to solve these issues.