Government programs provide affordable housing

JAMIE GOBLIRSCH

JAMIE GOBLIRSCH

Wren Murphy

Rent is high for SDSU students and Brookings residents alike, but government programs, education and careful planning may help students find affordable apartments.

Affordable housing, based on federal recommendations, should cost no more than 30 percent of someone’s monthly paycheck. 

“We found that our [Brookings’] rent is exorbitantly high and that 50 percent of our renters pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing,” said Patty Bacon, a Brookings City Council and Brookings
Affordable Housing TaskForce member. “But what students told me is that those high rents are cheaper than on-campus housing.”

One student who struggled to find affordable housing is Jacey Feyereisen, a junior human biology and microbiology major.

“I felt like I couldn’t find somewhere that wasn’t totally run-down within my price range,” Feyereisen said. 

Government programs offer assistance to those who need low-budget housing.

“That’s an option that a lot of students don’t realize they can apply for,” Bacon said. “We don’t want it to be abused, but you

should apply if there’s a genuine need.”

Two programs that help provide affordable housing are Section 8 and Section 42.

Section 8 is a government subsidy program based on income. Students who are dependent on their parents do not qualify unless they are over 24, are married, have a disability, are a veteran, have children or have parents who qualify for Section 8. However, students who are financially independent from their parents can be eligible for Section 8 assistance even if they don’t meet the qualifications
listed above.

Section 42 is a tax credit for developers who build affordable housing and provide some units at a lower price. Students with income below a certain amount may qualify for those apartments. To live in reduced-rent units, students have to apply to the property directly.

There are other on-campus and off-campus housing options to make housing more affordable for students who do not qualify for these programs.

On campus, doubles in Hansen Hall are the least expensive and doubles in Binnewies, Pierson and Young halls also offer more affordable options.

“We are probably one of the least expensive housing options,” said Chris Kaberline, associate director of Housing and Residential Life. “We really keep our housing costs as low as we can.”

Kaberline recommends that prospective student renters go to the housing fair in February and do independent research.

“The best thing you can do is be educated because that’s where it will cost you a lot if you aren’t careful,” Kaberline said.

Bacon recommends going through a renter’s checklist before choosing an apartment. These checklists often recommend taking pictures of damaged areas with the landlord before renting to avoid getting charged for previous damage.

“I would love to set the checklist in the hands of students. Good landlords should offer it,” Bacon said.

Other tips from Bacon include checking if utilities and electricity are covered by the landlord.

To ensure fairly priced housing, avoid waiting until the last minute to find an apartment.

“I’d say look early in the year and not before school starts,” Paul Moriarty, owner of Moriarty Apartments, said.

Apartment rental companies also have ways to assist people looking to stay within their budget, such as offering a range of apartments with different price tags.

“If you can’t feel like they can afford the upper rent, we have the variable rents,” Darla Vig of Moriarty Apartments said. “I think the variable rents are helpful for people.”

Vig recommends keeping up with rent payments as much as possible.

“Once you miss one [payment], it’s hard to catch up,” she said.

Whether someone uses subsidized or low-rent apartments, other off-campus options or an on-campus apartment or dorm room, it is important to choose an apartment that fits a person’s lifestyle.

“It’s often up to you as an individual to choose what’s important to you and how much it costs,” Kaberline said.