Facing a housing crunch for the coming school year, Dartmouth College is offering $5,000 to up to 200 students who opt out of on-campus housing.
In an email sent to students this week, the college announced it is creating a lottery for students who wish to enter a drawing for the $5,000 awards. In exchange for the money, the student will withdraw from the queue for a bed on campus.
College Associate Vice President for Communications Diana Lawrence did not respond to questions about the lottery, but the email states the school has few options as it expects more students to be coming to Hanover this year.
“While we will be shifting some of our larger doubles (rooms) to triples and converting lounges to student rooms where possible, we do not have modular, hotel or other options to increase the number of beds available for the fall,” the email states.
The influx of students seeking off-campus housing in Hanover is concerning, said Town Manager Julia Griffin.
“The thing we always worry about is that students who take the money may then double or triple-up with friends in off-campus rentals that are overcrowded already,” Griffin said.
The town has long tried to deal with overcrowding in the off-campus rentals as non-college residents complain about noise and parking problems. Griffin said there is also concern about the safety of some of these rental units. The town is unable to inspect all of the rental units annually and there may be overcrowded rentals without heat, hot water or working smoke detectors.
The school typically has a 500-bed shortage in the fall semester, according to Griffin. This year more students who stayed away last year because of the pandemic are expected back. The college has had to modify and cancel some overseas educational opportunities and internships, bringing more students back to Hanover.
The Upper Valley region is already experiencing a housing shortage, Griffin said, with an estimated deficit of 10,000 units. Last academic year many Dartmouth students ended up living on the Vermont side of the valley during the COVID-19 restrictions. Griffin worries what the students might do if rentals are more difficult to get — and more expensive.
“Five thousand doesn’t go very far, especially in Hanover,” Griffin said.