If Brady Meadows is successful, Cal Poly students and international students alike will be able to find housing easier — the former when they go abroad and the latter when they come to campus.
Meadows, a biological sciences freshman, is the campus representative of HousingAnywhere, new website that lets students of universities who have enrolled in the program advertise their rooms for free. HousingAnywhere calls itself “student-to-student,” which means that there’s no middle man and students set the price.
“If you’re traveling or leaving for the summer, you can put your room up for a sublet on this platform,” Meadows said. “And since you need to have a student email from an institution that’s bought into the website, you know that you won’t be the victim of a scam.”
Unlike Craigslist or other housing websites, only students can use HousingAnywhere.
The company was founded five years ago in Rotterdam, Holland, by Niels van Deuren, a student who realized how hard it was to find international housing. HousingAnywhere spread throughout Europe, and last year, it came to America. Now, there are five schools in the U.S. that use it: University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; Ohio State University; and the University of North Carolina. According to Meadows, it’s on the cusp of being integrated nationwide.
“It’s very common for it to be difficult to find housing near universities, especially for international students,” Meadows said. “We have that here at Cal Poly, where there’s really minimal housing on and off campus. Everyone wants to live close to the school.”
She sees HousingAnywhere as the perfect solution and said it would dramatically increase the amount of short-term housing, diversify the population and create a more cultural environment.
It also goes hand-in-hand with Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong’s vision for the university; he wants Cal Poly’s international student population to increase to 4,000 to 5,000 students in six years’ time.
“Right now, we have 211 international students,” Meadows said. “Out of a 20,000 student population, that’s 1 percent. That’s pretty bad. We have no international recruiter, so HousingAnywhere can be our international recruiter.”
There have been some obstacles on the path toward establishing HousingAnywhere at Cal Poly. Though Meadows said Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey and International Programs Director Cari Moore both loved the idea, it has been hard to communicate efficiently.
“It’s tough to get emails back and really coordinate things,” Meadows said. “On the back end, there’s been a lack of communication.”
Humphrey said he has met with HousingAnywhere representatives and thought the concept was interesting.
“I do think we would want to factor in the cost of any system like HousingAnywhere and our desire to have students housed on campus as part of a decision whether or not to use HousingAnywhere,” Humphrey said.
If the university decides to go forward with the partnership, the program will cost Cal Poly an initial installment fee of $1,100 as well as $4,850 yearly.
HousingAnywhere has received great feedback from students, Meadows said. She has talked to students both internationally and on campus who love the idea and wish they already had access to the site.
“This will make Cal Poly better known internationally, which will create higher demand for our degrees, which, in turn, will make our degrees worth more,” she said. “This is exactly what we need.”