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USC rental rates are steady for now

August 15, 2004|Allison B. Cohen

While the UC system is enjoying a housing construction boom, USC's housing stock has remained relatively stable for two decades, even though enrollment is growing.

Only one new residence hall, which opened in 2002, has been built since 1982. Not having to pass along construction costs has helped keep USC housing rate increases at a moderate 3% to 4% a year, said Jeff Urdahl, director of housing services.

Over the last five years, the rate for a two-person dorm room at USC increased 16.5%, to $8,998, while a university-owned apartment increased 17.3%, to about $7,260 an academic year. (It is more expensive to live in a dorm because of required meal plan and parking expenses.)

But rents are expected to start going up. The university is scheduled to break ground during the 2005-06 academic year on a $30-million to $40-million housing complex with 450 beds.

"We are anticipating a two-year period where we will probably see 5% to 6% housing rate increases," Urdahl said. "Then we should settle back into our traditional pattern."

Of about 30,000 students enrolled at USC, only about 6,500 live in campus housing. Those who don't typically rent north of campus, have discovered downtown or commute, Urdahl said. "We think we could house more students, but there is no open [space] anywhere."

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-- Allison B. Cohen

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