News 8 Investigates – Dorm Gap part 1

Growing enrollment at UW-La Crosse creates an on-campus housing shortage.

The residence halls at U-W-La Crosse are over-crowded.

Budget cuts and the lack of on-campus housing has lead to packed dorm rooms and more students looking for a place to live in the community.

Here is a look at the numbers:

School Year Enrollment Annual Increase 2010

9,948

2011 10,074              +126 Students 2012 10,227              +153 Students 2013 10,427              +200 Students 2014 10,558              +131 Students

College freshman Joshua Borenz is moving into a residence hall at UW-La Crosse with two of his friends.

“We were put into a triple double which… which is three beds in a double dorm,” said Borenz.

That was not the original plan.

“I requested for a traditional triple,” said Borenz.

But high student enrollment at the university has caused the campus housing department to get creative.

“They put a third desk in there and third dresser,” said Borenz. “But the only problem that comes with that is there isn’t room for a futon.”

Student body president Kaylee Otterbacher says the university increased student enrollment to compensate for budget cuts. Now they have to find a place to house the students.

“Eagle Hall is traditionally built for your regular double room,” said Otterbacher. “But this year we switched all of them to be mandatory triple rooms. So, we’re sticking one more person in every single room in Eagle Hall to compensate.”

The university was hoping to get approval to build a new residence hall on campus, which could help with overcrowding.

“We fought really hard this past year on the biennium budget for a new residence hall and it was not approved,” said Otterbacher.

In March, the Department of Administration, which helps the governor develop the state budget, denied funding for a new dorm.

“It’s frustrating because while the university is dealt a dagger with deep cuts, they try to resolve that and make that issue better on campus and find new streams of revenue like increasing enrollment and yet they find a dead end with the state,” said Wisconsin Sen. Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse.

Local developer and owner of 360 Real Estate Solutions is hoping to help the university meet the demand for off campus student housing.

“I think one of the obvious solutions is high density,” said Marvin Wanders, owner of 360 Real Estate Solutions.

High-density housing is an apartment complex. 360 Real Estate just announced its plan to build the Aguilera complex right next to UW-La Crosse’s campus. It is a 58-unit apartment complex, which will house 170 people.

“Budget cycles and governors come and go,” said Wanders. I think the commitment in Wisconsin toward education is extremely strong. We need to make sure in the private sector, that as the universities continue to grow, we’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re supplying the needs on the private side of things.”

And with demand for student housing continuing to grow, the Student Association president says her organization wants to make sure the student body is well prepared to rent.

“I want to do a lot of education with the students about what they need to know in their house, what they need to look for, stuff like that,” said Otterbacher. “I want to make sure they know what they’re doing when they’re entering into one of their first legal binding agreements.”

For college freshman, Joshua Borenz, he’ll be spending his first year in a crowded campus dorm room.

“I’ve already hit my head on the bunk a couple of times,” said Borenz.

But he says the tight living quarters will work out fine and looks forward to renting in the future.