As rent prices continue to rise in Boise, many students struggle to find housing. In an attempt to help address this issue, Boise State will be building new student housing to be completed in fall 2025, costing the university $50 million.
According to Lynda Tieck, Interim Director of Housing and Residence Life, the new student housing is first year housing which takes a community-based approach, meant to help encourage new students to find and build relationships on campus.
“We have had a waitlist for a number of years. The number of students who want to come to school here keeps growing,” Tieck said. “And with the housing crunch in the city of Boise, that means it’s really hard for our students to find where to live.”
Students perform better their first year when they have housing on campus, and Boise State is trying to provide that opportunity to more students.
“We tried to take the best qualities of Chaffee and Towers and one of the things that we overwhelmingly have heard from students is they want a building that has more community,” Tieck said.
The new housing will be located behind the Centennial Amphitheater next to Albertsons Library. The new building will have a three wing design with a courtyard patio. The building will be structured with pod style rooms with gender neutral bathrooms.
According to Joseph Smiga, a locksmith and maintenance worker at the university, in addition to the community based approach, the new housing will also have ADA accessible housing for students who use wheelchairs.
“We asked to have separate rooms for students that need that capability,” Smiga said.
Despite the new accommodations, some students, such as Kate Neville, a sophomore majoring in social work at Boise State, feel that the university isn’t doing enough.
Neville, who was unable to live at home after graduating highschool, applied for campus housing on three separate occasions, before finally securing on campus housing after her third attempt.
Neville faced difficulty from the first steps of applying for housing. She had just graduated high school and was living with her father, who lived off social security.
“The first time I tried to do it, there was the barrier of the application fee, which was $100. And then there was the processing fee, which was $50,” Neville said.
Neville, who was unable to work while going to school, ended up borrowing money from friends to pay for the application fee.
“The fact that there’s a barrier like that, and you may be put on a waitlist or you might not get housing at all, and they keep that money, that’s very, very frustrating,” Neville said.
Eventually, Neville got into a Living Learning Community(LLC) with one of the housing spaces, but after Medicaid cuts forced Neville to get private health insurance, on top of expensive school housing, Neville was forced to withdraw her housing application.
According to Neville, housing aid for low income students is insufficient, with many aid options only being available during the spring semester, or on a one time basis.
“As someone who is coming from a really low income background, I’d email Boise State. I went to advisors, I went to financial aid people, I went to housing directors, I was like, I need help like I need to get out of the situation,” Neville said. “I want to pursue my education, but I can’t afford any of this. I am very frustrated because [they say] we’re trying to help and then we don’t offer any resources for that.”
Due to the costs Neville withdrew from housing. After meeting with a caseworker and regaining Medicaid coverage, Neville applied for housing one last time.
“I went to Boise State Housing, I was like, listen, I know I just withdrew like a month ago but, my situation has changed,” Neville said. “And the room they had for me was the most expensive room and the most expensive building.”
Eventually Neville was able to obtain housing, but cost of living still remains a concern for her and other students like her.
“[There is] a wall for not being accessible for people. There were so many problems that poor people have and then when they try to do one thing, it’s always like there’s something else in the way,” Neville said.
Neville believes the university also needs to provide more housing options for upperclassmen.
“We are trying to provide more housing for our [upperclassmen students] as well, just knowing they want to be close to campus,” Tieck said.
According to Tieck, Boise State plans to build more upperclassmen housing near Capitol Boulevard. The new housing is set to open this coming fall, and will house 217 students suite style.
“The need is obvious for housing. It’s just the question of, is it going to be the same sh*t over and over where no one can attain it who really needs it?” Neville said.