Concerns surrounding affordable housing for graduate and nontraditional students have heightened since the recent decommissioning of Purdue Village.
Purdue Graduate Student Government has worked over the past several months to provide rent relief for graduate students who moved into off-campus housing after the decommissioning of Purdue Village. This effort has been denied by the Business Office for Student Organizations.
“We currently have been denied the ability to provide this relief by BOSO,” PGSG President Madelina Nuñez said. She said she is in conversation with administration on the issue, and will provide more information as she learns more.
Purdue Village has provided affordable housing for graduate students in the past, especially for those with dependent family members. Since utilities at Purdue Village were included with rent, it allowed graduate students and their families to afford housing within their stipend.
Purdue Village was originally set to be decommissioned in 2020, but COVID-19 hindered these plans. A residential project called “Provenance” will replace Purdue Village as a housing option. This project, located in Purdue's Discovery Park district, will consist of townhomes and detached single family homes, aiming to attract businesses and serve as residences for alumni and employees, according to previous Exponent reporting. Purdue's Discovery Park project costs about $1 billion in total, said Steve Martin, Purdue Research Foundation publicist.
Parts of Provenance were completed in the spring of 2021. All Purdue Village Apartments and buildings are scheduled to be decommissioned by the summer of 2022.
“By decommissioning Purdue Village and not providing alternate graduate housing at the same price point, graduate students currently living at Purdue Village, and those displaced last year, will suddenly experience a sharp increase in the proportion of their incomes they have to spend on rent,” Vasundhara Kaul, a graduate student in the College of Liberal Arts and PGSG senator, said.
This raises problems for international graduate students with spouses on dependent visas who cannot seek employment due to immigration laws. International graduate students also can’t supplement their graduate staff income by seeking additional employment, since Purdue allows them to work only 20 hours a week.
Purdue Housing negotiated lower rates with Blackbird Farms and Aspire, Kaul said. This serves as an option for families and single students who lived at Purdue Village. Even so, the rent at these two complexes is much higher and deterred many graduate students, she said.
Apartments at Purdue Village ranged between $580 and $764 per month, according to previous Exponent reporting, and the average apartment price in West Lafayette is $938 per month, according to Apartments.com, but other websites list higher prices.
“The Aspire deal was primarily targeted towards the single students due to the nature of their apartments, whereas Blackbird homes are more suitable for families,” Kaul said. “In addition to the rent, other concerns that were raised by displaced families about Blackbird farms was its distance from campus and limited connectivity via bus.”
These two options were announced last spring, at a time when most graduate students had already signed other leases and moved out of Purdue Village.
“Even with the widespread advocacy taking place on behalf of students for their salaries and housing,” Kaul said, “there has been little movement by Purdue Housing to create equally affordable options to that provided by the Purdue Village.
“Graduate students are a huge contributor to revenue generated in teaching, and they are critical to executing research. Without some help on housing, a huge portion of the university workforce is negatively affected.”