Sunday, November 13, 2011

Merced: From housing bust comes grassroots co-ops!

Article in the Sunday, 11/12 New York Times talks about how empty houses in the Central Valley city of Merced, California have become popular as ad-hoc student co-ops. 

The types of houses being shared are of the McMansion type - suburban houses with 4-5 bedrooms.  Rent is around $1,000 a month, or $200 a person.  The oversupply of housing and high unemployment in the area has led to these unusually low rates - in contrast, a shared house in Berkeley, which has more jobs than housing, costs about $600-700 a room.  As the houses are all new, maintenance costs are minimal as well and amenities are very nice.  Parking is a bit of an issue as these suburban houses are not within walking distance from campus and Merced is a car-centered city, but with a typical 5 bedroom house, the multi-car garage, driveway, and curb in front of the house is more than enough space to accommodate 5 vehicles. 

Strange thing is that UC run dorms cost roughly the same in Merced and Berkeley - roughly $1300 a month per person.  Could Merced be the start of a new co-op movement?  I'm already writing to NASCO, the nationwide association of co-ops, on feasibility of organizing something. 

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