My husband and I were very lucky that we bought our house years ago when housing prices were low and interest rates were reasonable, and we were able to get a nice house near campus. It helps me balance family and career to be able to get between home and work and my daughter's school quickly and easily, but if we were buying a house today, it is unlikely we could afford to own a house so close to campus.
Several of my graduate and undergraduate students have recently had their lives disrupted because their apartments were in houses or apartment buildings that went into foreclosure. Some have already had to find a new place and move, and some have to move within the next 1-2 months. When students move, it is typically in the summer, rather than during the academic year when they have very little time, so these unexpected moves have been extremely inconvenient for them.
Yet another student told me on Friday that he was going to have to move owing to his landlord's financial problems, and that as a result he might not be able to get as much work done as we had planned for April. This student is an undergraduate research assistant who is paid by the hour, so, unlike a graduate research assistant, if he doesn't work, he doesn't get paid. And if he can't work sufficient hours, I might have to hire someone else to make sure the most essential work gets done by a looming deadline that cares not for student housing woes, no matter how sympathetic I may be.
Even without the current mortgage crisis in the U.S., students are too often the victims of irresponsible or even unethical landlords, as I well know from my own experience with an avaricious, grasping, duplicitous, thieving scoundrel of a landlord when I was in graduate school. And now this. In addition to the problems that make the news, the mortgage crisis has generated a cascade of lost time and productivity that affects graduate and undergraduate students, and all those who work with them.
2 years ago