Recently Gainesville has become attractive to real estate developers, as reported by The Alligator in “Living in Gainesville: Students choose between luxury and affordability.” I’m from Orlando, so when I arrived in Gainesville, one thing I noticed was that Gainesville was a bit underdeveloped. This causes a less diverse real estate market, with fewer options to choose from. As housing developers continue to invest in building luxury-style apartments, what’s going to happen to all the students who can’t afford the now-average $860 a month for an apartment? How are older apartments going to keep up and remain marketable?
Gainesville construction should focus more on affordable housing for the people of Gainesville. Instead, we see an influx of luxury apartments, when we should see newer, yet more affordable housing. If this problem isn’t remedied, there could be several new issues brought up in the future.
For example, there are students at UF whose parents help them pay $950 a month for a luxury apartment. Housing developers love these renters because they are the kind of renters who are going to make them the most money. Consequently, developers build more luxury-style housing complexes to cater to these students. But guess what? This is college, and in four years, it’s likely these students will move away from Gainesville. After these students, who is going to live in these expensive apartments? Maybe someone with the same ability to afford these apartments, or maybe not.
The article mentions that of nine Florida public universities with more than 5,000 students, UF is the least socioeconomically diverse. Let’s be honest: UF is doing horribly at achieving a high level of diversity. Last year, UF received an “F” for race equity. For a school aiming to be the best, this is unacceptable. I wouldn’t be surprised if UF was working diligently to change the makeup of the university. That would also mean that soon UF might be comprised of students from more diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. These students may not have support from their families or scholarships for their housing. If developers continue to build apartments with rents of $860 or higher, where will these students stay? Secondly, how will UF become more diverse if students can’t afford a clean and safe place to stay? It doesn’t take too much analyzing to see where this is heading.
On the other hand, I understand why students and residents in Gainesville are moving toward more luxury apartments. Many of the affordable complexes are lacking severely, especially in regards to management. I’ve had my fair share of dealing with questionable management from various apartment complexes. However, I’ve been lucky and my issues were resolved. On the other hand, one student mentioned in the article from The Alligator that he had to wait an hour for maintenance to respond to a bad leak. If someone has the means, then it makes sense why they would pay more to avoid possible problems like this. Apartment management teams should work harder to provide quality services for their residents.
All in all, student housing at UF will never be perfect. A student will always run into issues when it comes to cost. However, there should be options in the types of apartment complexes. For every luxury-style apartment being built, there should be an affordable apartment being built with it. Why should students have to choose between luxury and affordability? Can’t we have both? Apparently, not in Gainesville.
Anede Siffort is a UF journalism senior. Her columns appear on Fridays.