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Student housing off to slow start

Sara Thompson
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily TribuneLake Tahoe Community College sophomore Ali Kent studies in her room at the Alder Inn.
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When Alicia Kent moved from Bellingham, Wash., to South Lake Tahoe to attend Lake Tahoe Community College, she didn’t know anyone in town.

She said she wanted to live in student housing so she could meet people. The Alder Inn was the perfect choice.

“When you go somewhere on your own, it helps to have this,” she said.

Alder Inn owner Joseph Balius decided to set aside rooms for Lake Tahoe Community College students, and the inn began providing student housing this quarter, he said.

For the first quarter of operation, eight students decided to live at the Alder Inn. Next quarter, only seven are signed up, because one of the students is moving back to his home in the Bay area, Balius said.

Even though the numbers are low, Balius said he still is optimistic about the program’s success. He said 78 students called asking about housing last quarter. He randomly called 15 back to see why they weren’t living in student housing. None of them were attending LTCC.

Balius said he started the project because he wanted to create an environment where students could meet others, bond and cultivate friendships. The situation works well for him, too, because he and his wife, who live at the inn, can stay home and raise their children.

Christina Proctor, the public information officer at the college, gave Kent a tour of the campus when she was deciding whether to attend LTCC. At the time, the Alder Inn wasn’t providing student housing, Proctor said. When the program started, she e-mailed Kent to let her know housing was available.

Housing costs $530 per month for those who commit to live there for the quarter, Balius said. That price includes wireless Internet, TV, cable, utilities, a desk, chairs, microwave, refrigerator and bed. The cost for those renting on a month-to-month basis is $560. Balius also added a laundry area. Students share their rooms with a roommate.

According to the National Multi Housing Council, the national median rent was $500 for a studio and $580 for a one-bedroom apartment. The tabulations were made from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2005 American Housing Survey.

In a survey of 14 classified listings in the Tahoe Daily Tribune last week, the median price was $600 for a studio and $750 for a one-bedroom.

Balius said the students living at the Alder Inn carpool, barbecue and hang out with each other. He said if the housing catches on, he wants to turn the main office into a community area with a lounge and a kitchen. But before that happens, more students need to move in.

“The key is patience,” Balius said.

The Alder Inn has a total of 24 rooms, with 10 set aside for students. Only four rooms are occupied, Balius said.

The Alder Inn and the college have a partnership, he said. The two are not directly linked, but they are working toward the goal of providing students with affordable housing, Balius said.

Proctor said the college helps promote the Alder Inn through its Web site and college fairs. The college provides a link on its Web site for housing information, and it’s where details about the Alder Inn are listed along with individuals who are seeking student roommates. The Web listings are not endorsements, but starting points to assist students.

Kent said living in student housing has its benefits. She is looking for a job, and Balius offered suggestions on where to apply, she said. He also offered to serve as a reference.

Balius said he likes providing housing for the students because he enjoys their company. He wants to provide students with the kind of memories he made at college.

“I’ve met some of my best friends of today sitting in a dorm room,” he said.


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