As Long Beach State welcomes thousands of students back to campus for another year of higher education, students may be looking to live closer to campus. Housing is the most expensive near the university, according to data from rent market trends website Rent Jungle.
Seventy-five percent of students commute from home, according to the university’s 2016-2017 Common Data Set. Some students cite soaring rental rates in the city as the reason that they do not live closer to the university.
Laura Leyva, a senior majoring in civil engineering, said that she’s looked into moving out of her parents’ house so she could focus more on school. However, the average price of a one-bedroom apartment in Long Beach is about $1,800.
“I live with my parents, and I think that’s pretty much the only choice that people have that live in Long Beach,” Leyva said. “There’s just no place for us students, and it’s just not possible with a minimum wage job.”
Rent Jungle data states that the most expensive places to rent are near the university, downtown and the Naples-Marina area. The average cost of renting near the school is $2,650 a month, whereas the average cost to rent elsewhere in Long Beach is $2,182.
This is almost a seven percent increase from last year when the average rent was $2,033. The cheapest areas in the city to rent from are near the Poly High district and Wrigley, where respective average rents are about $1,329 and $1,308.
Ambreen Khan, a junior civil engineering major, also commutes from home and agreed that moving out is too expensive.
“For me, there’s no option to move out right now,” Khan said. “It’s not too hard of a commute, though. It takes me half an hour to commute from Culver City, but that’s not as bad as some people’s commutes, so I didn’t bother trying to move out.”
Other housing options for students include the campus housing in any of the three residential colleges: Parkside, Hillside and the off-campus location Beachside.
The cost of living in a two-person room in one of these locations is $7,650 for the year. However, when living in the dorms, students are required to purchase a meal plan on top of their campus housing costs. The cheapest option is 10 meals a week, priced at $3,380 for the year, according to the Housing and Residential Life website.
Students who don’t make it into one of the 2,700 university dorm rooms should also be aware that Long Beach lacks rent control. Because of this, landlords have the ability to increase rent as much as they want, as many times as they want, as long as they give a 30 to 60 day notice depending on the percent increase.
Housing Long Beach is an organization which advocates for renter protections and affordable living in Long Beach and the rest of Los Angeles County. Executive Director Josh Butler says this is an issue for students because as rent increases, “that’s money that young people aren’t saving to become homeowners.” Because of this, he believes that Long Beach is looking at a permanent-class of renters if things don’t change.
“As more and more income goes to rent, students are finding themselves unable to even afford a basic student life,” Butler said in an email. “Students’ living stability is uncertain, as they can be evicted for no cause in Long Beach — even if they pay their rent on time and follow the rules of the lease.”
Cities like Los Angeles have just cause eviction laws to protect tenants from being evicted for no reason; however, these laws do not exist in Long Beach.
This has lead to a major problem in Long Beach: homelessness. For students couchsurfing, living in cars or on the street, the California State University system offers the Basic Needs Initiative. This program looks at students on a case-by-case basis to see how it can help.
As previously reported by the Daily 49er, this program helped Anette Alvarez, a senior recreational therapy major who found herself homeless. She was able to get back on her feet and find stability thanks to the temporary housing, food and $500 grant it provided.
“They helped me find an apartment soon after, and they gave me 10 free dining hall meals for the entire semester,” Alvarez said last October. “They also signed me up for the CalFresh program, so I got money for groceries through them, and they basically held my hand through the entire semester.”