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KentXie

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Where exactly are you getting 400-600 a month in Boston? Maybe if you had 4+ students in a small 2 bdr.
Your maybe is a good example which obviously means these situations are driving up 2 bdrm apartments for families.
 

KentXie

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If the on-campus buildings are full then their prices can't be pushing people off campus on the net. The prices may push some people off campus, but if the buildings are full then that shows that students are willing to pay the higher prices and aren't spreading into the community as a result of them.

There are two separate questions / objectives at play here:
  1. Colleges should build housing to minimize the housing cost for their students; and
  2. Colleges should build housing to minimize the impact of their students on housing in the neighboring communities.
I feel like a lot of debate on this forum is Person A focusing on 1 and Person B focusing on 2, and them talking past each other.

The case can absolutely be made that colleges are failing at objective 1 by building "luxury" (a term I absolutely hate) dorms. But those "luxury" dorms are NOT failing on objective 2 as long as they are full of paying students.

I'm inclined to care more about 2 than 1, so I'm fine with high-cost dorms. But if your concerns are more on 1 than 2, then yes, high-cost dorms may not seem appropriate.
If you want to get projects to be fast tracked without fierce resistance and endless delays, you address both concerns at the same time. It's pretty simple here and that's the argument I'm making. They should both be a priority.
 

JumboBuc

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If you want to get projects to be fast tracked without fierce resistance and endless delays, you address both concerns at the same time. It's pretty simple here.
If "cheaper" dorms are easier and faster to build, on the whole, than "luxury" ones. This assumes facts not in evidence.

"Cheaper" dorms might, perhaps, face somewhat less resistance from the community (although I'm doubtful). But "cheaper" dorms are certainly much more difficult to finance, develop, and bring to reality.

Your example of "$400-$600 per month" just isn't going to happen in new construction, full stop. Anything that's new is going to be expensive, just to cover construction costs, and it's going to meet community resistance. A bare-bones 1970s-style dorm would cost less than LightView, but it would still cost way more than "$400-$600," would still meet community resistance, and would be more difficult to get a developer to sign on to.
 

KentXie

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If "cheaper" dorms are easier and faster to build, on the whole, than "luxury" ones. This assumes facts not in evidence.

"Cheaper" dorms might, perhaps, face somewhat less resistance from the community (although I'm doubtful). But "cheaper" dorms are certainly much more difficult to finance, develop, and bring to reality.

Your example of "$400-$600 per month" just isn't going to happen in new construction, full stop. Anything that's new is going to be expensive, just to cover construction costs, and it's going to meet community resistance. A bare-bones 1970s-style dorm would cost less than LightView, but it would still cost way more than "$400-$600," would still meet community resistance, and would be more difficult to get a developer to sign on to.
To clarify, the $400-$600 is an example going rate of what can be had at Mission Hill if you have a shared bedroom. I'm not calling for Northeastern to build dorms at that low rate. I'm calling for Northeastern to build more of their standard rate rooms which are coming in at around $1000/mo. That would eliminate a lot of students that have converted a 2 tenant 2 bdrm apartment into a 4 tenant 2 bdrm apartment all for the sake of saving money. A $1000/mo is a lot more easier to digest than $1500 or $2000/mo.

Like all things, that's what the university needs to figure out. The city have been asking developers to allocate a % of new apartments to be affordable. I don't see why Northeastern can't attach a block of barebone standard dorm on the lower floors with an enhanced style dorm and do the same thing, given their tax exemption status and their $1b endowment.
 

dshoost88

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The city have been asking developers to allocate a % of new apartments to be affordable. I don't see why Northeastern can't attach a block of barebone standard dorm on the lower floors with an enhanced style dorm and do the same thing, given their tax exemption status and their $1b endowment.
This logic doesn’t work: you cannot assign “affordable apartment minimums” to full time students at an on-campus residence hall because full-time students are not yet earning an income. Their tax-filing status is full-time student. And to place the “cheap” or less desirable on-campus housing exclusively to students from lower-income households would be inequitable and unfair—queue the lawsuits and “poor door” op-eds! And the truth remains that new construction—no matter how bare bones you design it—has high costs that need to be recouped and demonstrably cost feasible before it can be financed.

Unless City of Boston scraps zoning codes, height restrictions, DBE requirements, union labor costs, real estate taxes, lengthy design review, parking minimums, traffic analyses, wind analyses, shadow analyses, IAG linkage fees, the community planning process, ZBA hearings, seasons, MEPA/NEPA analyses, preference for locally-sourced goods/services, any climate mitigation strategies that can be implemented in new construction, and a competitive free market for buying/selling land/real estate, you will not see the cost of new construction erode to Fantasyland levels. I’m not saying this to be cantankerous, patronizing, or even a dick—it’s just a truth.
 
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KentXie

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This logic doesn’t work: you cannot assign “affordable apartment minimums” to full time students at an on-campus residence hall because full-time students are not yet earning an income. Their tax-filing status is full-time student. And to place the “cheap” or less desirable on-campus housing exclusively to students from lower-income households would be inequitable and unfair—queue the lawsuits and “poor door” op-eds! And the truth remains that new construction—no matter how bare bones you design it—has high costs that need to be recouped and demonstrably cost feasible before it can be financed.

Unless City of Boston scraps zoning codes, height restrictions, DBE requirements, union labor costs, real estate taxes, lengthy design review, parking minimums, traffic analyses, wind analyses, shadow analyses, IAG linkage fees, the community planning process, ZBA hearings, seasons, MEPA/NEPA analyses, preference for locally-sourced goods/services, any climate mitigation strategies that can be implemented in new construction, and a competitive free market for buying/selling land/real estate, you will not see the cost of new construction erode to Fantasyland levels. I’m not saying this to be cantankerous, patronizing, or even a dick—it’s just a truth.
Dshoost, I'm not saying that the city ask Northeastern to do the same thing that they are asking developers do in Boston when building apartments. I'm asking Northeastern and their leaders to dedicate a percentage of their new build dorms to be standard dorms, something along the lines, for our masterplan over the next 10 years, we will dedicate 75% of new dorms to be enhanced dorms, 25% to be standard dorms. None of this requires any input from the city nor need for tax-filing information of their students. It just requires board approval.

And luckily for you, this isn't inequitable or unfair because the standard dorms are not exclusive to students from lower income households nor are students from lower income households only allowed to choose standard dorms. You being a fellow former student at NU know that that dorm lottery is not income restricted, but seniority based, and every students gets to choose what they can and want to afford as long as the supply is there, not to mention standard dorms already exist on campus and new builds can be designed to match the framework of existing standard dorms. They already have a blueprint! What's inequitable and unfair is Northeastern continuing to build only enhanced dorms that only the wealthy students can afford, while students from lower income families are given the choice to either work a job or two on top of schoolwork to live in an enhanced dorm because there are not enough standard dorms to go around or live off campus, far from community resources.

And I disagree that it is impossible to finance and build standard dorms in the city, or rather you better hope that's not. While I'll admit I know very little on the complexities to secure financing, if Northeastern, and in general any university, cannot secure financing to build dorms at the standard dorm rate, then you'll never solve the problem of students choosing to live off campus. The gap between what residents of neighboring areas want as monthly rent and the going rate of on campus dorms are too wide for students from lower income family to not opt for off campus housing. As I mentioned, I and many of my classmates, have lived off campus for rent rates from $400-$600/mo by sharing rooms or living with roommates because that is significantly less than what we would have to pay for on campus apartment and if future supply continues to remain well above that rate, then you're not solving the entire problem, you're just applying a bandaid on one of many cuts.
 
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dshoost88

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And I disagree that it is impossible to finance and build standard dorms in the city, or rather you better hope that's not. While I'll admit I know very little on the complexities to secure financing, if Northeastern, and in general any university, cannot secure financing to build dorms at the standard dorm rate, then you'll never solve the problem of students choosing to live off campus.
I 100% agree it is possible to finance a new construction, old school, bare bones, Stetson/Speare-style dormitory—if you read back, I never said it isn’t. And luckily for you, I am well versed in the complexities of securing financing--I could not more highly recommend a graduate school class on the topic to audit than Affordable Housing Financing at BU (ask for Mickey). If you actually want to have a zoom session or lunch some time to draw up a pro forma for an affordable residence hall at Northeastern, I'm happy to do that with you. I think when you look at the excel spreadsheet and see the eyebrow-raising costs associated with constructing a new residence hall in Boston, my perspective on the financing complexities will make a little more sense. And, thus, explain why it isn't just cheap to live in one of these new construction residence halls.
 

Equilibria

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That article did a nice job of going into the background on why the neighbors and city councilors irrationally argue against this - there's history and ongoing lawsuits and freeway clearance...

Nonetheless, I can unequivocally point out that Heronnah was full of crap when she said:
“This new development stands to be no different,” she wrote in a letter to the BPDA, “and will certainly exacerbate the housing shortage and availability crisis to which Northeastern has heavily contributed.”
I understand that your constituents resent the increasing presence of privileged White students in your neighborhood (on land cleared for a racist freeway), but you can't argue that building more of something exacerbates a shortage of it. The pols need to say what they really mean here and let that be the conversation instead of this illogic.
 

HelloBostonHi

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Like all things, that's what the university needs to figure out. The city have been asking developers to allocate a % of new apartments to be affordable. I don't see why Northeastern can't attach a block of barebone standard dorm on the lower floors with an enhanced style dorm and do the same thing, given their tax exemption status and their $1b endowment.
It's far more sensible to do this via financial aid, which is exactly what Northeastern does. Financial aid for needy students can and does cover the cost of housing. Forcing those students to then live in special poor people floors doesn't make sense.
 

TomOfBoston

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I understand that your constituents resent the increasing presence of privileged White students in your neighborhood (on land cleared for a racist freeway), but you can't argue that building more of something exacerbates a shortage of it. The pols need to say what they really mean here and let that be the conversation instead of this illogic.
Have you been to Northeastern recently? White students are in the minority. People of color, both US and international, are the majority.
 

Zash

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Have you been to Northeastern recently? White students are in the minority. People of color, both US and international, are the majority.
While NEU does have a large swarth of international students, to say that white students are the minority does not seem accurate at all.
 

stellarfun

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44.7% of Northeastern's undergraduates are classified as white. The 3,500 undergraduate, international students are not racially classified.
 

Equilibria

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Have you been to Northeastern recently? White students are in the minority. People of color, both US and international, are the majority.
I've been to Northeastern once when I was in middle school. It's clear that the councilors don't agree with your assessment (at least subconsciously), because the repeated references to "expensive, luxury dorms" are pretty racially coded.
 

TomOfBoston

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I've been to Northeastern once when I was in middle school. It's clear that the councilors don't agree with your assessment (at least subconsciously), because the repeated references to "expensive, luxury dorms" are pretty racially coded.
You may want to visit Northeastern again.
 

TomOfBoston

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44.7% of Northeastern's undergraduates are classified as white. The 3,500 undergraduate, international students are not racially classified.
There are very few international students at Northeastern from Canada and Europe.
 

Blackbird

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It's far more sensible to do this via financial aid, which is exactly what Northeastern does. Financial aid for needy students can and does cover the cost of housing. Forcing those students to then live in special poor people floors doesn't make sense.
Really? From my time there, I thought financial aid only ever went towards tuition. The only way to get free or reduced housing was to become an RA.

I understand that your constituents resent the increasing presence of privileged White students in your neighborhood (on land cleared for a racist freeway), but you can't argue that building more of something exacerbates a shortage of it. The pols need to say what they really mean here and let that be the conversation instead of this illogic.
Similar to the "adding lanes to a freeway will increase traffic" argument.
 

TomOfBoston

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The international students at Northeastern are overwhelmingly from just two countries: China and India. The number from China (5,000 or so) are probably 10x the total from all of Western Europe (including Russia).
So at Northeastern domestic students are 55.3% people of color and international students are perhaps 90% people of color. So stop the argument that Northeastern is a white school. It appears that Boston politicians are resentful of all the Asian and Asian American students living so close to Roxbury.
 

stellarfun

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So at Northeastern domestic students are 55.3% people of color and international students are perhaps 90% people of color. So stop the argument that Northeastern is a white school. It appears that Boston politicians are resentful of all the Asian and Asian American students living so close to Roxbury.
I think the more accurate description of Northeastern is not that it's a 'White school', but that it's not a 'Black school': 4.5 percent of the undergraduate enrollment in 2019-20 was Black. Whites are a plurality, rather than being a majority, and Blacks are the bottom tier minority among the minorities.

The low percentage of Blacks attending likely is a reflection of the great preponderance of students choosing to major in the physical sciences and engineering.. For example, about 500 more undergraduates enrolled in the College of Computer Sciences than in the College of the Arts. Undergraduate enrollment in the College of Science is about 700 more than in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities.
 

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