Need off-campus housing in Houghton? HOWL

Housing is an issue in many U.P. communities and others across the state.

Imagine adding an annual influx of students to that scenario. That's the case in Houghton (and neighboring Hancock), home to Michigan Technological University. About 7,000 students attend MTU.

Campus residence halls are full because of that demand. Returning students who failed to participate in the university's initial returning housing application process for the new academic year have been the most impacted -- forcing many of them to search for off-campus housing. 

In another effort to help students find housing, MTU this month launched Helping Out With Living (HOWL) for Huskies, an online platform to help students connect with off-campus housing opportunities. 

"Over the past couple of years, our department (Residence Education and Housing Services) has shared many community resources with students to help them connect to available housing in the area," said Matt Weekley, executive director of the Residential Enterprise at Michigan Tech. "This new website is a continuation of that effort in assisting students with housing resources. It gives them a virtual posting board of sorts to connect with one another and community members who may still have available housing."

What's happening: Michigan Technological University launched Helping Out With Living (HOWL) for Huskies, an online tool to help students find off-campus housing. The platform shows available housing listings shared by local members of the community. The platform is also expected to help students connect with other students who are seeking roommates. The website also provides links to other off-campus resources. The platform is available only for the fall semester. Classes begin August 28.

What prompted the program: "We recognized that housing demand in the Houghton/Hancock area creates challenges for our students who are still seeking housing. We have addressed this in many ways, including expanding housing through our successful Flex housing program," Weekley said.

The university will break ground this fall on a new on-campus residence hall, but demand for student housing remains high. "So in our continued commitment to support students, we implemented HOWL for Huskies," Weekley said. "We hope it becomes another great tool for students to help them be successful in their educational journeys."

What has been the reaction: The response so far has been good. "The Houghton/Hancock area has always been a very tight-knit community. We wanted to help students connect to that incredible community spirit. Launching this webpage has been a wonderful reminder of what an awesome community we have here and what a special place this is," Weekley said.

What has been the level of participation: Members of both the university and non-university communities have gone to the website to offer solutions and opportunities for students. "We still have students seeking housing assistance, and we hope even more community members will consider helping out if they have the means to provide housing for our Huskies," Weekley said.

What's next: "We have been actively communicating with returning students who are seeking housing assistance by connecting them to multiple off-campus housing resources and extending opportunities for on-campus housing as they become available," Weekley said. 

Jason M. Karel is a freelance writer based in northern Michigan. 
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