After being accepted into the University of Alabama’s master’s program in community journalism last fall, I began the frantic search for a place to live in Tuscaloosa. My head was filled with rumors of housing shortages in the city, and I was thrown into an instant panic at the thought of having nowhere to live. Accordingly, I scurried into town as fast as I could. Imagine my surprise at finding a place after just one day of looking.
Every summer a flood of college students say goodbye to the Tuscaloosa area. And every fall, they come back with a vengeance. With about 34,900 students attending the University of Alabama, many fear they will not find housing. As a result, a plethora of students reserve apartments months in advance with the hope that they will not be homeless when fall classes begin.
With rumors of housing shortages circulating, it is little surprise that students experience anxiety and even panic when it comes to finding a place to live. While this shortage does in fact exist, it mainly pertains to housing on campus, whereas off-campus housing has seen tremendous growth in recent years.
This discrepancy has caused confusion and misconceptions concerning housing availability. As the university builds more necessary on-campus student dorms and apartments, developers build more unnecessary off-campus student apartment complexes. This escalating construction has a myriad of implications for Tuscaloosa and the stability of its housing market, economy and infrastructure.