Students find ways to cope during ‘homeless week’


Editor’s note: The Daily Universe received more than 100 comments on a June 5, 2017 Facebook post asking our readers about issues they have had with off-campus housing. Those comments led, in part, to the development of the BYU Off-Campus Housing Series. 

Part One – Off-campus BYU housing: It’s complicated

Part Two – Housing quality doesn’t always live up to price, students say

Part Three – BYU students struggle to sell yearlong housing contracts

Part Four – Off-campus tenants and landlords clash over security deposits

Part Six – Students share their housing horror stories

Part Seven – BYU-contracted housing: What to do if you have a problem

The BYU Off-Campus Housing Series — Part Five

Kylee Marshall packed all of her belongings in her car and wondered where she would sleep for the next few days.

Her housing contract had expired, and it would be another two weeks before she could move into her new apartment. Like many students in Provo before the start of a new school year, Marshall found herself without a place to live.

The Provo community commonly refers to this span of time, usually between summer term and fall semester, as “homeless week.”

Marshall, a recent BYU alum, said being homeless for two weeks last year was particularly stressful because she was taking the GRE. After studying all day, Marshall said not having a place to go home to at night was very difficult for her.

To cope with homeless week, she volunteered with BYU’s Foundations for Leadership camp to have a place to sleep for three of those days. She then she stayed with some married friends for two more days and bounced around between other friends for the rest.

“At that point I would have been willing to pay extra money to move in early,”  Marshall said.

Marshall said the smaller housing complexes were more willing to work with her, but bigger management companies didn’t seem to care since they have many tenants to keep track of.

Marshall said it would be helpful if BYU-contracted housing could establish a policy that would allow students to pay to move in early. She said it also might be helpful to require all BYU housing to coordinate and be on the same schedule as each other to minimize the time students would be homeless.

Marie Dvorakova, a UVU student from the Czech Republic, has lived in BYU-contracted housing most of the time she has been here since 2014.

During “homeless week,” Dvorakova said she would explain her situation to her landlords and ask if she could stay in her current housing until her next contract started, offering them rent money to compensate for the extra time.

She said with the exception of one landlord, her landlords told her to find friends to stay with.

“They were never really willing to work with me even when I explain to them that I am an international student and I don’t have anyone here,” Dvorakova said.

Often the landlords would tell her they needed her to move out so they could clean the carpets or paint the walls, but this confused Dvorakova since she knew other tenants were staying behind because they bought year-long contracts.

“In my experience, whenever they cleaned the carpets it was always while I lived there,” Dvorakova said.

During the “homeless period,” Dvorakova moved between friends’ apartments and tried to find someone with a garage or a shed who would let her temporarily store her belongings.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, the BYU Student Advisory Council surveyed students about the homeless period.

Of the respondents, 48 percent said they had been negatively affected by the “homeless period,” and 26 percent said they would pay more for a housing contract that eliminated the “homeless period.” Only 16 percent didn’t know what the “homeless period” is, and 39 percent said they would be willing to pay a higher monthly rate for a semester-long contract.

Students have recommended staying with family members, planning a trip or camping with friends. Others have recommended staying in the same apartment in order to avoid the situation altogether.

Students can check with their current and future landlords to see if they can stay later or move in earlier.

If students are having issues with housing, they can contact the Off-Campus Housing Office at 801-422-1513.

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