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Students' unconventional off-campus housing search: Raffles to 8-hour lines

October 13, 2023
<p>Students wait in line at The Abbot on Oct. 2, 2023.</p>

Students wait in line at The Abbot on Oct. 2, 2023.

Photo by Brad LaPlante | The State News

Students have many off-campus residences to choose from: apartments, houses, co-ops and Greek life houses. But some students take unconventional routes to find their future home.

Most would think standing outside for over eight hours to get an apartment is unconventional, but marketing sophomore student Nate Brinker waited it out.

On Oct. 2, students were spotted lining up for hours in hopes of signing a lease for The Abbot, a highly sought after apartment complex on Grand River Avenue above Walgreens.

Brinker was first in line, arriving a little after 3 a.m. to secure his spot

“We got there around 3:30 in the morning," Brinker said. "One of my roommate's dad was there at 12 a.m. waiting for us. It was honestly not that bad. It was fun; we had camping chairs, and we were just watching movies and talking with other people in line."

Brinker said it wasn’t a bad experience, but it was "annoying" to get up that early. 

Luckily for Brinker, those hours outside paid off. Him and his roommates were able to secure the last available three bedroom apartment.

The Abbot and Landmark are the two most sought after complexes on Grand River Avenue due to their short distance to campus. Brinker said he originally toured Landmark, but the apartment didn't offer a three bedroom apartment layout.

Landmark also completely sold out for the 2024-2025 school year before The Abbot even opened for lease signing.

“The hardest part I think is trying to find something that fits all your needs that is in a reasonable price zone,” Brinker said.

Other students prefer houses over apartments, but still struggle to find their home.

In past years, Campus Community Management, or CCM's, houses were first come, first serve. But this was the first year they held a housing raffle for students; it was all up to chance.

Business-preference sophomore Collin Brueck was one of the lucky few selected out of the raffle.

Him and his roommates selected and submitted six houses from CCM's "giant list" of residences on a Friday. By the next Monday, CCM offers a house that may not even be on your list.

“It’s just like a random raffle," Brueck said. "You just pick your top six houses on it, and then you have a better chance of getting those houses based on where they are on your list.”

Some students picked out their top six houses without seeing the inside of them first. Karlee Mullendore, CCM leasing agent, said groups were encouraged to knock on the doors of potential options, but no official house tours were offered.

Not every group who entered the raffle was even able to secure a residence at all. Mullendore said there were roughly 230 groups that entered the raffle with only 100 houses available.

Students were then alerted via phone if they were one of the lucky 100 to win a house. The rest of the groups were emailed that they were not selected.

Fortunately, Brueck was able to secure their first pick house.

Mullendore said CCM curated a raffle to combat the overwhelming number of people who applied for available houses in previous years. However, the raffle still left over 100 groups searching for other options.

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But the raffle didn't leave current CCM residents in the dust, though. 

“We first reached out to all of our current residents to see if anyone wants to stay or transfer to any of our properties," Mulledore said. "It’s kind of a long-standing company policy that we’ve had for years that all CCM residents can get priority for any CCM property before the general public." 

Mullendore said CCM plans to do something similar next year, but will make a few tweaks to ease the process.

The off-campus housing process is difficult for many students, and some don't end up with what they wanted, resorting to a plan B. 

Brueck said CCM wasn't him and his roommates' first option, but they were happy to find a place to live as the system worked out for them.

"We went through CCM and found a bunch of houses we liked, and then we realized it was a raffle," Brueck said. "So we weren’t really planning on it, and then it kind of worked out that way.”

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