Stress about rent prices has become a growing concern for East Baton Rouge Parish residents and students at the University as rent increases while the minimum wage is at a standstill.
LSU industrial engineering professor Isabelina Nahmens recently received a grant from the U.S Department of Energy to make energy-efficient modular homes. To complete this project, Nahmens has partnered with Vermont Energy Investment Corporation and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado.
Modular homes are cheaper because their construction costs are lower than regular houses. They're faster and easier to build, and, because they're designed to be energy-efficient, produce cheaper utility bills for occupants.
Louisiana ranks fifth in the nation in regards to rent-stress. Housing costs in the state have been rising since 2010, even though the minimum wage has not changed since 2009. The University has worked closely with state departments in order to study and combat the rising costs of housing.
Nahmens' plan will ultimately make housing in our community much more affordable and help reduce rent-stress for University students and low-income households, making this project a novel and highly-anticipated idea. In the midst of a statewide foreclosure crisis, the development of cheaper homes would significantly benefit our community and economy.
Although the project is not specifically targeted to assist students, we still face a lack of affordable housing. Since there is not enough on-campus housing for every University student, off-campus apartments are popular options for upperclassmen — but rent prices are increasing.
Meanwhile, the quality of these apartments is going down. Off-campus apartments try to advertise themselves as luxury apartments, but they are far from luxury. Luxury apartments are actually cleaned regularly and provide an exceptional living experience for residents. Many of the apartments near campus are not maintained as well.
The pictures on the website are quite different from the actual buildings. Most apartments near campus only care about the money and not the living experience they offer residents because they know students need somewhere to stay and will sign the leases regardless.
Residents are crowded into small units with little breathing room. Typically, units are fully furnished with cheap, uncomfortable furniture, including rock-hard beds and couches. Many apartment complexes also have limited security to protect their residents, and the offices and common areas are the only areas that are somewhat cleaned and maintained.
For the price we pay, units should be spacious with fully working appliances and hallways that are at least clean. The price of these modular homes will be more doable for many students and allow them to focus more on their studies than on overpriced rent.
Energy-efficient homes in our community will give students more housing options, enabling less dependency on these overpriced apartments for off-campus housing.
Tamia Southall is a 19-year-old mass communication sophomore from New Orleans.