OPINION: Cobb county housing ordinance harms students

OPINION: Cobb county housing ordinance harms students

Every Kennesaw State student is familiar with the exorbitant cost for housing around campus. If students do not already pay thousands to live on campus, they may find themselves paying thousands to live off campus. Students could save lots of money by renting houses near KSU, however, the Cobb County single-family dwelling ordinance legally prevents students from doing this. This ordinance hinders the ability for students to find affordable housing options around the Kennesaw area.

Unfortunately for KSU students, Cobb County prohibits what could be the most affordable housing options for college students. Cobb County’s Single-Family Dwelling Unit ordinance stops students from renting properties together, simply because they are not related by blood.

“A dwelling unit consists of one or more rooms which are arranged, designed or used as living quarters for one family including up to one unrelated adult, or two or fewer unrelated adults and their children and/or grandchildren,” the ordinance reads.

In contrast to paying upwards of $700 a month to live in a student housing complex, splitting the rent of a five-bedroom house could decrease individual rent to as low as $400 a month. If the ordinance in Cobb County was overturned, students could potentially save thousands of dollars every year.

The luxury student housing industry also only serves to worsen economic divides between high and low-income students, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Lower-income students are forced to live farther from campus, which in turn impacts academic performance and chances of graduation.

“Five students got displaced right before Thanksgiving because we had too many cars parked in the street,” senior Spanish major Coty Peltonen said. “Finals definitely become more stressful when you are facing the threat of homelessness.”

Peltonen was evicted from a house in Acworth last semester for violating the ordinance.

Many college students cannot afford to live in university housing units. College on its own is extremely expensive and many students do not have the luxury of living with their families if they cannot afford exorbitant student housing prices.

The single-family dwelling ordinance encourages students to either increase their debt or avoid coming to KSU altogether. Even if students choose to attend KSU, the stress alone of paying high rent prices in the Kennesaw area is enough to affect their academic studies.

This housing ordinance simply does not have a substantial reason to stand. If someone owns a home and the land it sits on, they should not be restricted to how they rent out their property.

Keeping this ordinance in place also only hurts rental owners and their potential tenants. Cobb County should not expect college students to dive further into financial debt because they are unable to opt for cheaper housing options — namely, renting a house with other college students.

This ordinance essentially controls the student housing market and works in favor of the university and its affiliated apartment complexes. If this ordinance were to be changed, it could possibly bring down rent rates across the Kennesaw area. The student housing complexes would have to compete with local rental owners instead of having a monopoly that decides where students are able to live.

For years, the single-family dwelling rule has harmed KSU students, putting them through unnecessary financial hardship that could easily be solved by allowing local rental owners to conduct business with whomever they choose. The fact that this ordinance is still in place is a testament to the greed of student housing businesses and local government hold above the well-being of everyday college students.

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