At the end of the 2020 spring semester, many Cal Poly Pomona students reluctantly re-signed leases on their off-campus housing with as to what the COVID-19 pandemic would spell for the rest of the year. With next spring semester continuing virtually, some students are now once again bound to their leasing agreements.
Kira Zimmerman, a third-year psychology student, resigned in July because she was unsure of the status of the fall semester and wanted to be safe. Zimmerman is commuting back and forth from her condo and job in Claremont to her family home in Redondo Beach, but remains frustrated without no in-person classes at CPP.
“I probably would have not re-signed if the school told us earlier that we would not be having in-person learning for the fall and spring,” Zimmerman said. “Being in the lease now, obviously feels like some months are just a waste. I pay $780 a month plus utilities. That’s money I could be saving for graduate school.”
According to the most recent 2018-2019 Common Data Set, 90% of CPP undergraduate students live off campus or commute to the university. The average rent in the San Gabriel Valley for an apartment is about $1,700 according to rentcafe.com
Last April, Leticia Gutierrez-Lopez, associate vice president for student health and wellbeing, noted that about 50 students reported being stuck in leasing agreements, according to an article from the Press Enterprise.
“We came in contact and learned about this while we were assisting students with emergency grants,” Lopez told The Poly Post. Since then, Lopez does not have any updates on the numbers, as CPP did not track students.
Stuck in a housing limbo, some landlords made no exceptions to the leases despite the obstacles the pandemic presented students with. Regardless of the challenges COVID-19 exacerbated, this offers CPP an opportunity to lead the way in supporting students during this pandemic.
ASI envisioned ways and compiled resources to help students during these unprecedented times including the Poly Pantry reopening, City of Pomona services and more available on ASI’s website.
Sarah Clausen, a third year English literature student, also re-signed her lease to ensure housing in case classes resumed in-person. Clausen is currently spending $750 a month in rent and wanted to look for something cheaper, but decided to stay due to the uncertainty of leasing agreements. With elderly grandparents who live in her parents’ home, Clausen wants to keep them safe, and staying in her townhouse by campus lets her do so.
“Due to COVID, I was pretty much forced to stay in case we were allowed back on campus,” Clausen said. “I was hoping we could have a spring semester, but that’s not going to happen. Either way, I need a place to stay because my family home doesn’t have space for me at the moment.”
For students who live out of state, the situation can be more complicated.
Fourth Year kinesiology student, Jane Woodward, contemplated re-signing her lease rather than return to Portland, Oregon. Because commuting is not an option for her, it was imperative that she have a place to live in case classes resumed in person. Woodward is financially independent from her family, so paying rent lies entirely on her.
“For my major, I have a lot of labs and I wasn’t sure if we would do those virtually, so that was one of the reasons I signed,” Woodwarn said. “I got a job, but it definitely does feel like $720 going down the drain sometimes.”
Students looking for resources during this time can visit CPP’s website to see all the ways the university can help. CPP provided information including emergency housing, homeless services, financial resources and more.
(Feature image Romain Dancre)
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