Students rush to find off-campus housing

by Andrew Sasser | 7/17/20 2:15am

4-23-19-hanoverinn-adrianrussian
by Adrian Russian / The Dartmouth Staff

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some students have committed to returning to the Upper Valley to live in off-campus housing for the upcoming year. 

For many of these students, the search for off-campus housing began after the College moved spring term to a remote format in March. Blake Danziger ’22 said that his friends had planned to get off-campus housing since early spring in the hopes that they could “quarantine” together.

“We were discussing the possibility of fall not going back to normal, and we decided on getting off-campus housing so we could stick together,” Danziger said.

Danziger added that he found it “incredibly difficult” to find housing in the immediate vicinity of campus, and that over time he had to be “less picky” with regard to location. He said he and his friends ultimately settled on a location that is a 20 minute walk from town.

Similarly, Sam Hedley ’23 said that her freshman roommates have talked about getting off- campus housing since March because they thought that there was “no chance” they could get on-campus housing for the full year. 

Hedley added that although she began her search for housing early, she and her friends struggled to find housing. She said that she “repeatedly” checked Dartlist, a site where Dartmouth undergraduates can post about housing options.

“We got really lucky when we found an apartment in Hanover,” Hedley said. “The landlady said that she got a ton of applications from Dartmouth students.”

Jolin Kish ’88, owner of KCC Properties Realty, Inc. — which rents apartments and houses to approximately 200 undergraduates and 200 graduate students — said that although overall demand for housing was “normal” this year, about 50 more undergraduates have gotten leases than usual. However, Kish added that this year, the demand has come in “crazy waves.”

“Normally we’d see the last third of our properties rent out by late March or early April,” Kish said. “This year, almost no places were rented out in those months, and all of that activity has instead happened over the last couple of weeks.”

With regard to leases, Kish said that their general policies and procedures have remained the same, including the stipulation that all leases last through the whole year. 

Danziger, who leased his apartment from KCC Properties, said that though he may have to find new roommates for different terms, he still found the terms of his lease to be “very fair.” 

“The overall cost is still going to be far lower than living in a dorm, especially if we don’t need to go to campus every day,” Danziger said.

Hedley said that she was “satisfied” with her lease, but found Hanover’s zoning laws — which limit the  number of unrelated people living in a “non-owner-occupied dwelling” to three — to be “annoying.” She added she intends on occupying her residence through her sophomore summer.

As students return to the Upper Valley to occupy their residences, they will be required to abide by all College and local community regulations. In an email sent to the community on Tuesday, Dean of the College Kathryn Lively wrote that failure to comply with these regulations could result in the loss of on-campus enrollment privileges for the upcoming year, as well as other potential “disciplinary consequences.”

Lively wrote that students living off-campus will not be guaranteed access to campus facilities, in person classes or “retail dining services.”

Hanover Police lieutenant Scott Rathburn wrote in an email statement that police officers will respond to calls of those who are not “distancing appropriately” with the goal of educating people on how to maintain social distancing.

In response to the rules, Danziger said he plans to quarantine in his house for the first two weeks. Danziger added that after those two weeks, his group of friends plan on “keeping to themselves,” but may interact with other students living off campus while social distancing.

“Right now, we’re waiting to see what the College’s rules will be before we determine how we interact with other students,” Danziger said. “However, we’re still taking this seriously and do our best to protect the health of everyone around us.”

Besides staying in off-campus rentals in the Upper Valley, some students have turned to other options for living in the Upper Valley. 

According to Kevin Pagnano, the corporate director of the Maine Course Hospitality Group that runs the Six South Street Hotel, the hotel has received inquiries from “several students” about extended stay rates. He added that the hotel normally offers discounted rates for extended visits.

“We’ve had staff members and students who’ve used extended stay rates in the past,” Pagnano said. “After the College’s decision on the 29th, interest in the extended stay rate option surged.”

Other students have organized group living arrangements around the nation. Teddy Press ’23 said that he is planning on spending fall term at a friend’s house in Florida with six other Dartmouth students. He said his friends decided to get together to emulate the “camaraderie” of the College experience.

Press added that he decided against returning to the Upper Valley out of fear of “bringing COVID” to the area.

“We didn’t want to play a game with what school officials were telling us about COVID in the Upper Valley,” Press said. “Dartmouth had requested students not come back in the spring, and we decided we’d be better off going somewhere a little less isolated.”