Florida Universities, Student Housing Brace for Hurricane Irma

As most Texas universities affected by Hurricane Harvey resumed normal operations on Sept. 5 and are making student housing arrangements for students displaced by the storm, schools in Florida are starting to close in anticipation of Hurricane Irma.

  • Lamar University in Beaumont is the only major Texas school in which in-person classes are not in session. All classes began online on Sept. 5 and will remain available on the Internet indefinitely. With roads around the Southeast Texas refinery town still closed because of waters from Hurricane Harvey, Lamar on-campus student housing facilities are offering a host of activities for residents.
  • The University of Houston has limited temporary student housing available for students whose homes were flooded by Harvey. For students who now would like to live on campus for the remainder of the school year, applications are being taken

Meanwhile, universities up and down both Florida coasts began closing on Sept. 6 as Category 5 Hurricane Irma continues on its projected course toward Florida.

  • Florida International University and Nova Southeastern University both shut down classes on Sept. 6 and said they will resume classes no earlier than Sept. 11.
  • The University of Miami, Florida Gulf Coast University, the University of South Florida, the University of Central Florida, the University of Tampa and Stetson University announced they would be closed from Sept. 7 until at least Sept. 11. Stetson residence halls will be evacuated.
  • Jacksonville University announced it will be closed on Sept. 8 until at least Sept. 13.
  • The state’s two flagship universities, the University of Florida and Florida State University, have not announced any closings.

Usual Student Housing Delays Occur

Student housing properties outside storm zones faced their typical construction delays at the start of the 2017-18 school year.

When those student housing delays happen, the property managers usually arrange for the affected residents to stay in a hotel until their rooms are available. Students with leases at the new Identity Reno student apartments near the University of Nevada at Reno were no different – except their hotel is attached to a casino.

In true Nevada fashion, the managers at the seven-story, 325-bed Identity are housing residents at the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino, according to the “Nevada Sagebrush,” the university’s student newspaper.

The hotel offered a reduced rate to the property owners, who are also providing students with a $100 gift card for every day they are in the hotel to be used toward food, transportation and other incidentals – but not the slots.

The first residents were able to move into Identity on Sept. 1, more than a week after the planned Aug. 24 move-in, while others will have to wait as long as Sept. 22 to claim their beds, the newspaper reported.

Student housing construction delays were also reported elsewhere:

  • Brookside Downtown near the University of Missouri had to move its residents into a closed university residence hall because of construction delays, according to “The Columbia Missourian.” Move-in had been scheduled Aug. 4, but was delayed until the end of August. Brookside’s owners also gave each resident a $150 gift card in addition to the temporary dorm room and prorated first month’s rent.
  • Fremont Station near Northern Arizona University could not move in before the Aug. 21 start of classes, according to the “Arizona Daily Sun.” The units were expected to be ready between Sept. 3-17.
  • Residents of Park Place near Louisiana State University were able to move in by Sept. 1 after delays prevented opening before the start of classes Aug. 21, according to WAFB-TV. Lease-holders were housed in a hotel for one to three weeks.
  • Avid Square near Oklahoma State University delayed completion until Fall 2018, according to the OColly, a student-run news site. The owners delayed opening by a year after construction delays made opening by the start of this school year impossible. The property notified lessees in July, and refunded their application fees and deposits. Some got gift cards, and about 25 lessees accepted an offer to live at another property of the owners’.
  • Prime Place near the University of Minnesota delayed its opening from Sept. 2 to Dec. 29 because of construction issues, according to “City Pages” in the Twin Cities. Presumptive residents could terminate their lease with a full deposit refund or move in by December at a 30% rent reduction. The university’s legal services department advised some renters to find a better deal, and those who did got Prime Place to pay the additional costs.
  • The Pavilions property on the St. Edward’s University campus won’t open until spring, according to the “Austin American Statesman.” The university will pay any rent differences between The Pavilions – intended for upperclassmen – and alternative housing. It will also provide free parking passes and shuttles.