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Washington University's fall housing policy could drive students to new neighborhoods

Wash U is reducing its "on-campus residential density to no more than 65% of normal capacity"
Credit: SLBJ
Washington University apartments along Delmar Boulevard. The school's housing policy is changing this fall due to COVID-19.

ST. LOUIS — Washington University’s reopening plan for the fall is poised to upend the residential rental market in neighborhoods that don’t traditionally count students as residents.

That’s because the university said it would guarantee housing on its Danforth Campus only for freshmen, with sophomores in residences on the campus’ north side and in off-campus university housing. Wash U said it also secured an additional 450 beds near campus, at Everly on the Loop and the Moonrise Hotel.

The university, which plans a blend of in-person and virtual instruction, is making the move because the American College Health Association, reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic, recommended placing all students in single bedrooms. As a result, Wash U is reducing its “on-campus residential density to no more than 65% of normal capacity.”

A lot of upperclassmen will be shut out, as the school stated that “some students who were expecting to live in Residential Life housing during the fall semester will not be able to do so.” A university spokeswoman, Julie Hail Flory, said as of June, it had applications to live in its housing — both on-campus and off — from 1,090 juniors and 556 seniors. Hail Flory said while the school doesn't place students in non-university housing, it does provide information and vetting services.

Those numbers mean that the Delmar Loop will be hard-pressed to meet the needs of affected students, said Michael Golde, a realtor with Avenue Real Estate Group who manages units in the area.

He said students are likely to look in other areas, including the Central West End, Skinker DeBaliviere and Clayton, particularly along its eastern boundaries, such as a multifamily area called the Moorlands. Single-family homes may be scooped up too, with students banding together to rent them, he said. 

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