Several calls and emails to the William and its parent company by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution were not returned.
Neither option offered by the company is viable, according to Grant and other parents, since finding a new place, especially for roommate groups, is a challenge midsemester in a college town already low on student housing. And moving into temporary housing in a hotel or Airbnb during football season is near impossible.
Social media turned into a lifeline with parents swapping ideas and tips on locating emergency housing on the University of Georgia Parents Facebook page and a recently created William Athens Concerned Parents group. Some parents are discussing renting motor homes for their students or bringing their own RVs to Athens.
UGA is attempting to help even though the William is off-campus, private housing. As of Friday morning, the UGA Housing and Student Care and Outreach departments fielded phone calls and emails from around 30 affected students seeking options, said spokesman Gregory Trevor.
“These students have been offered beds in on-campus spaces. Most of these students have declined those offers, saying they prefer to live off-campus with their existing roommates,” said Trevor. “Student Care and Outreach is tailoring support and assistance for students who are navigating these complex circumstances. We are helping students to communicate with their professors, resolve issues with commuting to campus, and connect with emotional support services, as needed. Emergency financial assistance is also available to students who demonstrate financial need. Student Care and Outreach can work with students on this process as well.”
Trevor said some students told UGA they’ve already been in touch with private off-campus housing providers with available space. Many parents say they are calling other apartment complexes in downtown Athens that cater to students.
UGA is also sharing leads with families. “We have been informed that Landmark Properties in Athens has 70 available spaces. We’re making students aware of this option and would encourage you to share the information with parents,” said Trevor. Student Care and Outreach is available around the clock at 706-542-7774, he said.
UGA may have contributed to the Athens housing crunch, welcoming a record 6,200 freshmen this year. Last year, the freshman class had 5,800 students. In addition, this year’s entering class has more out-of-state students. UGA reports 25% of the enrolling UGA first-year class come from outside Georgia. In 2021, 19% of the freshmen were out-of-state. (UGA requires freshmen live on campus whether they are in-state or out-of-state.)
The larger first-year classes leave fewer dorm rooms available for older students, many of whom choose to enter the tight Athens rental market in their second or third years. Out-of-state students left stranded by the William construction delays don’t have the option to live at home and commute to UGA as do many of their metro Atlanta peers.
“I cannot imagine how the parents feel who are out of state,” said Grant. “If their child isn’t checking email, those parents may not even know yet that their student is being evicted from their hotel room this weekend and has nowhere to live.”