Where is the data to prove that enrollment numbers are down because of a lack of housing? Perhaps young people are recognizing that graduating with an average debt of $30,000 and not getting a job that will allow them to pay that debt, isn’t a path they want to go down. I could point to a large number of SUNY graduates who are underemployed as baristas and bartenders, but what is more telling than personal anecdotes you can find in every restaurant in New Paltz are the unemployment rates. The most recent unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 16-year-olds and above was seven percent, but for 16 to 24 year olds it was more than double at 14.2 percent.
Moreover, the U.S. Census Bureau report released in September of 2013 showed that college enrollment is dropping nationwide. The National Student Clearinghouse reported in December of 2013 that total enrollments in U.S. degree-granting institutions fell by more than three percent from 2011 to 2013. Dr. Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center stated “As the number of high school graduates declines and adults re-enter the workforce, we could see this trend continue, despite efforts to increase college access and attainment. This new data will help education practitioners to understand the effects that shifting demographics and a changing economy have on students and institutions.”
Shifting demographics and a changing economy are not something that can be controlled by a local community, college campus administrators, and certainly not by luxury housing developments.
It is unlikely that Park Point will bring more students who are debating the cost-benefit analysis of a college education to SUNY New Paltz. These apartment style housing units are far from the affordable housing that on-the-fence potential students would need to make their college experience worth the financial investment. Take a look at The Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress 2013 Housing Brief. The report addresses the affordability of housing in the Hudson Valley and includes a chart on page seven that outlines the 2013 fair market rents (FMR) throughout the Hudson Valley. The FMR for a two bedroom in Ulster County is $1,197, a price that the same chart indicates 65 percent of renters in Ulster County are unable to afford.
Now look at page eleven of Wilmorite’s Economic and Fiscal Impact report dated May 15, 2013. The “Annual Rent Generated at Project” is projected to be $6,466,080 with a 95% occupancy. That means 695 of 732 beds are occupied. When you divide $6,466,080 gross rent by 695 it equals $9,304 per year, or $775 per month, per bedroom, including utilities. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that a two bedroom unit at Park Point should list for at least $1,550 per month, which is $353 dollars more per month than what Pattern for Progress stated is the FMR.
Even if you consider that $353 to be what the monthly utilities would cost, the bottom line is that those same students could live off campus, or commute from a home in the region at lesser cost. What SUNY New Paltz needs is sustainably built, affordable housing. The new dorm being built on campus has to meet state standards of Silver LEED Certification, and Park Point should be held to the same standard. This housing development offers students neither of these essentials and will not help SUNY New Paltz swim against the current, nationwide trends.
Peace, Love & Positivity!
New Paltz Village Board Trustee
SUNY Environmental Task Force, Co-Chair
Environmental Task Force
Office: 845- 255 2636