Credit: Rain Mazumder / Mustang News

Cal Poly’s infamous housing crisis developed an evident role in campus culture over the past years, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. Some students are even living out of their cars and the campus only accommodates for very few extra spaces for those experiencing houselessness. 

To not only ease the stress of finding off-campus housing, but also make the process enticing, the Cal Poly Off-Campus Housing Program (OCHP) has partnered up with EDUrain, an online program that creates off-campus housing communities for students navigating the housing marketplace. 

According to a Cal Poly news release, “The Off-Campus Housing Program was created in October 2022 to help students successfully transition from on-campus to off-campus living in the San Luis Obispo community.” 

Cal Poly Housing expects the hunt to be far easier using EDUrain’s platform. 

“EDUrain’s off-campus housing marketplaces offer a centralized and customized hub to simplify the housing search process for students and offer features such as a roommate search function, subleasing feature, credit-building program through on-time rental payments, an alternative security deposit program, and scholarship search, among others,” according to the release.

Sarah Bacio, Cal Poly Off-Campus Housing Program coordinator, said she expects the partnership to ease students of the challenges they face in securing off-campus housing.  “We are confident that this partnership will help us better serve our students and provide them with a positive off-campus housing experience,” Bacio said.

In the past, Cal Poly provided links to different apartments for rent on their housing website. The list compiled recommended and frequented apartments that were popular among previous students. One of the main problems with this was accessibility, according to Bacio. 

Throughout the past year, she worked with students to understand their needs in terms of the housing crisis.

Bacio said in an email to Mustang News, “During the first few months of the program, I spent time in focus groups with students and visiting departments around campus to hear what students need out of the program.” 

She found that one of the main barriers was access and knowing what complexes were was actively leasing. This program has a centralized hub of available rentals which will help “alleviate the need for students to search multiple sites or having to resort to Facebook or Craiglist where rental scams are more prevelant.”  

Along with the new centralized hub for renters, Bacio added, “the OCHP houses the Educated Renter’s Certificate program, a great way for students to educate themselves on the search process, their rights and responsibilities as a renter, and how to promote neighborhood wellness.”

Cal Poly students have access to many resources from the OCHP including an asynchronous Canvas course where they can learn about renting and earn a certificate in the end with the goal of making them a more competitive applicant. With these new resources, off-campus renters have the ability to navigate the rental market throughout San Luis Obispo. 

Business Administration sophomore Vaishali Nair deemed the search for housing as  incredibly stressful. 

“I didn’t realize how competitive the process was, or that there’s no way to increase any individual’s chance of getting into on-campus housing if they weren’t in one of the required groups,” she said.

A select 400 second-year students from Cal Poly’s colleges that are not part of the two-year housing agreement are granted a spot by lottery in the on-campus Poly Canyon Village apartments

Though, there is tough competition among these students who hope to be part of the 400 lucky lottery winners – whether that be to reside with their friends or to ease their commute to campus, students who aren’t guaranteed housing try twice as hard to make it in – and some don’t make it.

Nair lived in the Tiłhini residence hall her freshman year, in the Yakʔitʸutʸu living complex. Although she is not in the  Cal Poly Scholar’s program, she lived in the Scholar’s residential living community and met many of her friends in her building. Since the Scholar’s program is part of the two-year housing contract on Cal Poly’s campus, Nair was among the students who entered the Poly Canyon Village lottery and lost.

She started the housing search in November, which she admittedly said was a “little late.” 

Since most of her friends were in the required groups for on-campus housing, the process felt incredibly long she said. 

After being notified that she did not receive a spot in a Poly Canyon Village apartment, she was back on the housing hunt in March. Nair struggled to find an apartment.

“I know many of us were in this same situation, and one of our potential roommates ended up switching housing, leaving us with an open spot in our apartment at Valencia,” she said.

She was not able to find a student who wanted to take up this single spot, and the Valencia Apartments ended up placing a random person in their group without notifying them. 

“While I was eventually able to find off-campus housing for the next year, it was definitely a whirlwind. I was very worried about where I was living, who I could live with, costs and losing my chance at a better housing option,” Nair said.

She said the most stressful part of the process was the limited time she had to find a place because of how fast the rate housing on and off-campus fills up.

“We are confident that this partnership will help us better serve our students and provide them with a positive off-campus housing experience.”

Sarah Bacio, Cal Poly Off-Campus Housing Program coordinator

“It can be so hard for someone new to college to understand this and be on top of it,”she said. 

Nair said she felt that a lot of the resources Cal Poly provided about both on-campus and off-campus housing came toolate and she was not sure if she could live in Poly Canyon Village  or have to commit to an off-campus apartment. 

EDUrain’s mission is to alleviate problems identical to the ones faced by Nair and ultimately make the process as seamless as those who are able to live on campus for their second year. 

They have an extensive Renter’s Guide that lays out every step students need to take take to secure off-campus housing by school. This includes, budgets, renters insurance, credit, security deposits and more.

Students like Nair can now use EDUrain to find compatible roommates. 

“The roommate profile and matching feature of the Off-Campus Housing Marketplace is very exciting,” Bacio said. “Students can log-in and create a roommate profile. Then they will be matched based on their responses with a handful of potential roommates.” 

They can easily reach out to those students and set up times to have roommate interviews. The OCHP website also provides a living agreement template for new roommates.

Nair is hopeful that Cal Poly’s new partnership with EDURain will streamline the housing search.

“This new program could help students stay connected, find roommates, and see where other students typically live in order to maintain the Cal Poly community outside of academics too,” Nair said

Though, she said she wish it came sooner. 

Nair said if the program was able to help her with her housing hunt last year, “It might have been easier to find a roommate, choose a place to live closer to more friends and help us make our decision sooner in order to avoid apartments getting filled up and with late fees.” 

With the next housing search season coming soon, check out EDUrain for rates, roommates and a positive renters experience.