Increase in enrollment creates housing shortage at Southern Utah University

Posted at 8:22 PM, Jul 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-30 09:36:07-04

CEDAR CITY, Utah - Hundreds of incoming freshmen at Southern Utah University are scrambling to find a place to live.

Administrators said they’re expecting a record-number of incoming freshmen this fall, and the unanticipated growth has led to a shortage of housing. SUU has 600 on-campus beds, and those filled up weeks ago.

"This is unprecedented,” said SUU Marketing Communication director Ellen Traenor. “And we’re thrilled. It’s a great problem to have. And we’re doing our best to solve it as quickly as possible.”

Early enrollment numbers estimate growth between 8 and 9 percent this fall, and those numbers are expected to continue to climb. Traenor said the growth is being credited to a multi-departmental collaboration focused on bringing students to the small southern Utah town.

“Rather than saying, ‘this is my department, and I really don’t do that.’ We’ve all worked together for the betterment of the student,” Treanor said.

Local property manager Stephanie Smith said it’s a situation they’ve never encountered before. The Dixie and Anne Leavitt Foundation owns several rental properties around campus, and Smith says even they have a wait list.

“We feel bad, because we don’t know what to tell them," Smith said. “We’ve even had parents call and rent whatever we have sight unseen because they’re so desperate.”

SUU housing coordinators have reached out to the community to find available houses, apartments, or just rooms. Even SUU president Scott Wyatt took in a boarder for the semester. He said it highlights the need to plan for future growth.

“We’re going to have to find a way to get a lot more housing for students,” Wyatt said. “That’s going to come through the university looking at housing, and community members [and] investors looking into new housing.”

Administrators say they’re committed to helping everyone find a place to say. They’ve compiled a database of local rentals in the area, which can be found here.