Pflugradt: The rent is too damn high


Brian Hayes

Construction of the new Flats at WSU continues on Feb. 10, 2017. The new apartments, located on campus, will start at $939 for a one bedroom.

Finding the right place to call home is a challenge. Finding a place all your own while in college is a struggle. Trying to find this place on Wichita State’s campus is a burden.

The Flats at WSU, a public-private partnership between the developer and Wichita State University, announced absurd leasing options Friday. In one quick observation, anyone can see that the developer wants occupants to forget they’re in Wichita.

Teri Hall, vice president of student affairs, said she expects there to be a market for the 112-units. Units start at $938 for a one-person unit. Sure, that includes the cost of water, Internet a few base amenities (not including electricity), but don’t forget the added $50 per month for a parking space in the complex.

“It’s a high-amenity place to live,” Hall said. Ah, yes, the amenities — granite countertops, a mounted 55-inch flat screen television; fully furnished top to bottom. Oh, and the sand volleyball court, swimming pool and clubhouse with billiards and the most high-class of all amenities — foosball.

I like foosball, billiards and sand volleyball, but these games only matter if the price is right.

In 2015, Wichita State surveyed about 1,500 students about their needs for living. What students wanted the most was a housing option close to campus that was affordable. In Wichita, low cost and amenity-rich options weren’t too hard to come by. Most were satisfied.

The study suggested that students would pay about $746 per month to live in a new development on Wichita State’s campus — an upgrade from the $533 students were spending on rent and utilities as a whole.

Lou Heldman, vice president for strategic communications, said “we look to keep the price as low as possible while providing a place for students to live on campus.”

This message may have been the intention, but students are smart enough to see that the leasing plans took shape with terrible execution.

I recently moved into a new apartment last spring. In the months of budgeting I did prior to I learned that you are to spend about 30 percent of your monthly income on rent and utilities.

In the facility which the university says they prefer to have occupied by students first, students simply could never afford it.

To flip the bill for a $938 one-bedroom at The Flats at WSU, with an above ground parking spot for $50 — calculated at the 30 percent rate suggested to be spent on rent, a student would have to make $3,300 per month, or $825 per week. That rate doesn’t include electricity, billed separately.

Students are instructed to give adequate time to devote to their studies. If they work on the side, they’re suggested to keep that limited — preferably 20 hours in a week.

Can a student make the required $825 per week to satisfy the equations? No doubt.

Can they do it with 20-hour workweek limitations?

Sure, just let me know what jobs pay $41.25 an hour.

Wichita State wants desperately to jump out of being a commuter school. And unfortunately, the leasing options at The Flats at WSU just don’t cut it.

These prices don’t cater to undergraduates.

They’re unrealistic and fit for a place not named Wichita.