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OU, OCC enter student housing partnership

Earlier this month, Oakland Community College and Oakland University announced a student housing partnership. The agreement will enable OCC students to live in OU campus housing while they take classes at OCC. Students who want to participate will submit an application and will be placed into available space once all OU students have been housed.

More than once, various administrations (and board members) at WCC have spoken about building housing for WCC students. In the current climate, locating available housing is difficult to say the least. Eastern Michigan University has recently contracted out its student housing to a third-party firm. The plan is to raze existing dormitories and apartments, and build new ones in their place.

An arrangement like the OU/OCC agreement could benefit WCC students who need/want housing, while at the same time, ensuring ideal housing occupancy at EMU. It would also relieve the Washtenaw County taxpayers of the burden of building and maintaining student housing on a campus that is experiencing something of a denouement for its existing mode of operation.

In practical terms, there is no such thing as “affordable housing” right now in Washtenaw County. For so long, Ann Arbor has resisted the idea of building housing that its workforce can afford, instead preferring to concentrate on luxury student apartments and high-end homes. The alternative to regional cooperation for affordable housing is that Ypsilanti (and Ypsilanti Township) have become the residential equivalent of de facto segregation.

“Poor people to the east; rich people to the west!”

Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township are at the point where they cannot absorb any more low-income residents because they can’t afford to provide the accompanying services these residents require. Ann Arbor Township will not zone “affordable housing” (including student housing) period.

Student housing poses unacceptable cost risk at WCC

That’s probably not the worst outcome in this case because – based on the way it maintains the rest of the campus – WCC would not expend the money needed to maintain on-campus housing in habitable condition. “Affordable” student housing would quickly become unaffordable. WCC is not alone in this. (There’s a reason EMU sold its student housing operation.)

Working with EMU to strike a housing partnership agreement could serve the interests of both parties while limiting the risk to Washtenaw County taxpayers. (We already bear an inordinate risk, thanks to the ill-conceived borrowing habits of the WCC Board of Trustees.

Regardless of how tight the rental housing situation in Ypsilanti becomes, we should resist attempts on the part of WCC to give in to the idea of new student housing construction and instead partner with a provider that is already prepared to deal with the reality of housing students.

Photo Credit: TheKarenD