YHC negotiates for Enotah Village
By Erin Grable, Staff Writer
Along with the change of the new zoning district on campus here at Young Harris, the college wishes to expand its housing facilities further. There has been talk of creating new residence housing for students anticipating to live on the campus, because of the increase in enrollment. Unsure of where to build, what to tear down or put up, the college remains undecided on the final decision but does anticipate seeking new housing.
“YHC is growing at a rapid pace and expects to have more than 900 students enrolled in 2011-12 – some 100 more than we have this year. Accordingly, we absolutely must add additional student housing in order to grow at the rate we’d like to grow,” said Cathy Cox, president of Young Harris College.
Cox explained that as of right now the college provides 716 available beds for students and 657 of them are already assigned. 31 single rooms are set aside for RAs and 21 single rooms for any students willing to pay for them, that only leaves seven available beds for students entering next fall. Even with the seniors graduating next spring, and some students unfortunately transferring, the college will endure housing shortage unless they add new housing to the campus.
Winship Hall will be taken down or renovated during the summer of 2011 for the construction of the new campus center, further diminishing the number of available beds on campus.
“We know we need more housing and we have several options, but we are still very early in the process of identifying the best option,” said Susan Rogers, vice president of student development.
According to Rogers, there are several options for the expanding of housing preferences for students at Young Harris: option one being that the college seeks purchasing the apartments; option two being to bring back the arrangement of trailers on campus for housing; option three being renovating existing rooms on campus for additional beds. Finally option four being a planned village-style housing project, which is currently in the design phase.
The college has considered expanding to the Enotah Village apartments located across the street from the campus. These apartments house only residents with disabilities or residents that receive low income.
According to Cox, the college considered purchasing Enotah Village because they were interested in the apartment living-style they provided and they liked that it is located near the campus.
The master plan developed in 2008 for the campus, expects to seek apartment style housing with full kitchen so that students wanting to live in these apartments can begin learning to live independently in the privacy of their own apartment. The college wants to offer multiple housing options so that students will be more comfortable.
“We’ve spent months trying to see if the college could work past the various restrictions, but the sale continues to look less and less viable,” Cox said. “Adding ‘real’ apartments to our housing mix has been a part of our plans for some time whether we bought an existing apartment complex or built our own apartment style units.”
Cox explained that the Board of Trustees approached the developers of the Enotah Village living facility to see if they were willing to sell the apartments.
However, the purchase of the village is not possible at this time, because the facility is designed for individuals who receive low or moderate income and the apartment falls under the agreement to not be purchased until 20 years after being built.
“The college did approach us, but there is no agreement in place,” said a reliable source affiliated with Enotah Village.
According to a resident of Enotah Village who wished to not be named, many residents feel that if the college purchased the apartments it would be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act.
The resident claimed that as many as 20 families affected by this disability would be out on the street with no place to go.
However, a reliable source affiliated with Enotah Village assured that the residents would be protected; they would not lose their housing rights. There would probably be another facility that would accommodate the Enotah Village apartments.
Just in case, residents at the Enotah Village apartments received access to paperwork with information concerning the HUD Office of Fair Housing if they felt the need to file any complaints for the inquiry of the college’s expanding into their housing facility.
According to Cox, the developer of Enotah Village was interested in building a new housing location to fill the area’s need for affordable accommodation if they were able to work out the complicated details.
“If there was an agreement in place it would be a complicated, lengthy, unwinding process,” said a reliable source affiliated with the Enotah Village apartments. “Some people have a problem with change, but it is often a good. It can be the benefit of all.”
Another option exists if the college is not able to purchase Enotah Village. According to Cox, last spring the Board of Trustees contacted the administrators of the college to see about beginning an apartment-style housing design for the college. The process for the design does not have a set date, but the apartments will be located on Maple Street, and it will be offered to upperclassmen first.
“A number of decisions will have to be made in the coming month to ultimately decide which path we’ll follow,” Cox said. “But any way you look at it, we are simply going to have to have additional student housing next fall. That’s a good problem to have.”