By Auzinea Bacon

John Evans, who transferred to the University of Maryland (UMD) from a community college, in 2016, has struggled to find affordable housing in College Park since he landed here. He and his partner lived at The Alloy, on Berwyn House Road, until management at the complex increased rents by 11% and doubled the price of parking. Evans and his partner decided to trade proximity to the university for more manageable rent, and now live in a walk-up apartment at the Oasis Condominiums, on Tecumseh Street. They would have been paying $2,400 at The Alloy; their monthly rent at the Oasis is just under $1,800.

UMD students have struggled to find affordable housing that meets their needs for years, and this challenge has intensified as the city has grown. 

Jennifer Lindstrom, manager for housing partnerships at the UMD’s Department of Resident Life, said that $500 would be a dream price for adequate housing, and  that students should expect to pay anywhere from $600 to $800 monthly for a room in a house. 

The state housing price index has increased by nearly 12% since 2021. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, fair market rents in College Park should be around $2,300 per month for a three-bedroom apartment. This is a steep price to pay for college students without a steady income who may have to foot the bill for a range of other regular expenses, too.  

In College Park, many apartments require a by-bed lease instead of a single lease that occupants share, Lindstrom said, noting that this is not always feasible for some students. “Sometimes it’s more affordable for folks to have an apartment or a house lease that they can divide amongst a total number of people as opposed to an individual lease,” she said. 

Lindstrom said that the off-campus housing office advises students who have an ideal home in mind to consider compromises. 

“If they can only pay up to a certain amount, that might mean that they have to move their proximity, or the amenities might have to change,” she said. “Convenience is very expensive.”

The office manages a database that students can access to navigate options (

Evans sees a lack of competition as a primary driver of high-end development in the city.

“It really comes down to lack of competition and lack of will by the local and state governments to make changes to zoning,” he said. 

Evans noted that because there are so many luxury apartment complexes under construction in the area, there may be a surplus of available units that leads to a reduction in demand and leading to increased competition among landlords to attract renters. 

Michael Williams, the city’s  economic development manager, said there are single family homes and luxury apartment buildings in each of the city’s 17 neighborhoods. While students find the luxury apartments appealing, these complexes are primarily intended for young professionals who are just entering or are established in the workforce, according to Williams.

Williams also noted that an apartment in College Park might carry a higher price tag than would a comparable unit elsewhere in the state. 

“We probably look a bit more expensive because so many of the other colleges in Maryland are in more suburban spaces,” he said.

Williams noted that there is housing in the city for renters who can’t afford luxury units with a full range of amenities, adding that while county regulations govern and in some cases also limit the amount of parking developers can provide, the city does have lots with available which offer monthly parking for renters, though for a fee.

Lindstrom, who has been with the university for 8 years, said that the growth rate of development in College Park is the highest she’s ever seen in College Park. Four new housing complexes are on track to open in fall 2023, and Lindstrom hopes that these new developments will face competition that prompts them to adjust their pricing.

“It’s my hope that with more beds available, prices will go down,” she said.

There are many pros and cons for students in College Park’s current housing climate. New apartments and stores open every year — the recent opening of Trader Joe’s, for example, is notable. Students can also expect to find housing close to their classes as new apartment complexes increasingly surround the university. But in their search for a perfect apartment, students often have to compromise on certain things — amenities or location, for instance — to afford rents.   

Some new complexes, like EcoGrads, at Route 1 and Quebec Street, are owned by developers who claim they are trying to solve housing concerns. However, the initial proposal for the EcoGrads complex did not offer enough on-site parking spaces, which meant the developer would have to reduce the number of apartments to comply with county regulations.

Students continue to speak out about their frustrations with the lack of housing in the city that fits their budgets. Some have felt that newer complexes like Tempo and The Nine have not turned out to be  as high-end as advertised, but hope that more recently built complexes —  perhaps EcoGrads and Aster —  will offer a good range of amenities for lower rents.