Students Struggle to Find Adequate Housing

The “resort-style” swimming pool at Chapman Grand. Photo by Satvi Sunkara

As this school year comes to a close, students find themselves worrying over where they are going to live in the upcoming year. With the priority filing date for housing applications due on April 8, students have little time to determine which option is best. Rising rental prices and the new addition of Chapman Grand to university-owned accommodation options mean that students must evaluate and compromise on factors such as luxury, pricing, location, and transportation.

Chapman Grand, formerly Katella Grand, is Chapman’s new “luxury” apartment complex located in Anaheim. The university purchased Chapman Grand for $150 million last year and will open the complex for student housing starting fall 2018.

A kitchenette in Chapman Grand. Photo by Satvi Sunkara

Although the apartments boast marble countertops, a rock climbing wall, and fitness center, some students are worried about the high prices of living at Chapman Grand compared to other more affordable housing options.

“I was considering Chapman Grand, but after touring, it is out of my budget,” freshman television writing and production student Carly Jenican said.

Chapman Grand’s prices are a middle ground between other housing options. There are currently no confirmed prices for Chapman Grand, although estimates are given to those who tour the complex. According to the tour fact sheet, the tentative rates per academic year are $13,738 for a single occupancy room and $11,962 for a double occupancy room. Singles and some doubles in Panther Village are pricier than Chapman Grand, while the Davis, Glass, and Harris apartments are less expensive.

The fact sheet given to students on Chapman Grand tours. Photo by Satvi Sunkara

Though Chapman Grand is slightly less expensive than other on-campus options, off-campus apartments and houses are more affordable. According to RentCafé, the average cost of an apartment in Orange is $1,962 per month, a two percent increase from last year. If a student were to split the rent with two roommates, the cost would come out to $654 per month, or $5,886 per academic year, much less than Chapman Grand’s $11,962 minimum.

“Everything is overpriced, but [living off-campus is] cheaper than living at Chapman Grand,” Jenican said.

Though off-campus housing may seem to be the answer for many, transportation seems to be a bigger cause of concern for students. Students without a car or bike must live in an apartment or house within walking distance of Chapman, which may prove to be costlier than options farther away from campus.

Sophomore communication student Brenna Vigil noticed the difference in cost when she and her roommates were looking for a house and one owner raised the rent from $4,500 per month to $5,000 per month. “The house wasn’t that nice, but if you live close to campus, they milk you for everything that you have.”

A layout of the kitchenette area. Photo by Satvi Sunkara

Since the cost of living close to campus is high without transportation, it may be worth it to live at Chapman Grand and Panther Village, which includes the service of university shuttle buses. However, Chapman Grand is located 3.5 miles from Chapman, which is farther than Panther Village; and university shuttles are only expected to pick-up students every 30 minutes.

“My biggest concern right now is transportation since I don’t have a car. If the shuttle system fails me, I’d really have no other way of getting to class,” freshman broadcast journalism and documentary student Satvi Sunkara said.

Jenican agrees. “I need the transportation system to be reliable so I know I will make it to class on time,” she said.

Chapman is purchasing more shuttles and hiring additional drivers to provide additional service to Chapman Grand, according to Sheryl Boyd, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services.

“We are not pulling shuttles from other routes nor altering any other service we currently provide,” Boyd said. “There are no plans to change our existing service, only add additional service for Chapman Grand Apartments.”

However, according to Panther Village shuttle driver Jewell Morton, the drivers are very understaffed and many of them are working double hours.

Although Boyd said that all of Chapman’s driver positions are filled, Morton said that most of the newer drivers are only temporary contract workers. The transportation solution is “about getting shifts organized and getting more drivers. If we could get a raise, we’ll get more drivers,” Morton said.

Even with an increase in drivers, transportation to Chapman Grand and Panther Village may be difficult. A provisional shuttle route to Chapman Grand may travel from Schmid Gate to Jim Miller Parking Structure, Chapman Grand, and then Panther Village, Morton said. This would mean that if 24 students (the capacity of a shuttle bus) gets on the shuttle at Chapman Grand, everyone at Panther Village will have to wait for the next bus. According to Morton, however, this hasn’t happened yet. She said that she’s never had to leave a student behind at Panther Village even though the shuttle gets quite full.

Chapman Grand’s double bed layout. Photo by Satvi Sunkara

Students who are interested in Chapman Grand may tour the apartments every Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. If students are not interested in university-owned housing, Chapman offers students access to a database with off-campus rental listings. There are also unofficial Facebook groups such as Chapman and Chapman University Housing, Sublets, & Roommates that help students find accommodation.

Samantha Wong

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