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Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Hub On Campus Madison apartment complex, photographed Jan. 28. 

Madison to gain more than 2,000 housing units by 2026 amid university enrollment surge

Upcoming student-focused housing projects address affordability and availability issues.

In response to rising housing costs and availability challenges, Madison plans to construct more than 2,000 student-centric housing units in the next two years.

That number comes from a recent analysis of 10 current and planned housing projects shared by District 8 Ald. MGR Govindarajan. According to the analysis, 2,029 student housing units and a total of more than 5,300 beds will be added to the campus-area housing stock by the end of 2025. Approximately 400 beds will be offered at discounted rates for low-income students 

“With even an additional 5,300 beds, and the university not increasing their enrollment anymore, this is going to have a drop in the amount of rent, which is huge for students,” Govindarajan said.  

The announcement comes a few months after students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison responded to a June 2023 survey conducted by Govindarajan aimed at understanding the challenges they faced with Madison’s housing market shortage and increased prices.   

The recent spike in campus-area Madison developments, including Oliv Madison and Atmosphere Madison, is partially a response to years of enrollment surges at UW-Madison as well as consistent efforts by Govindarajan and District 2 Ald. Juliana Bennett toward ensuring student voices reached city ears. 

Projects expected to finish in the next two years include: 

  • 386 units and 939 beds at Oliv Madison.
  • 177 units and 488 beds at Chapter Madison. 
  • 144 units and 498 beds at Verve Madison.
  • 341 units and 681 beds at Atmosphere Madison. 
  • 248 units and 575 beds at 415 N. Lake St., a parking ramp to be developed into a living residency starting in May. 
  • 685 units and 2068 beds across the incoming Johnson and Basset and Johnson and Broom apartment complexes. 
  • 48 units and 125 beds across 120-128 N. Orchard St., 1313 & 1314 Randall Ct. and 1309-1311 W. Dayton St. 

In June of 2023, Govindarajan sent out a survey to UW-Madison students asking about student experiences with housing affordability, preferred rent pricing and related topics in the housing sphere. 

The survey gathered qualitative data in order to deepen understanding around issues students face when searching for housing, Govindarajan said. 

“The reason [the survey] was really focused on collecting qualitative data is because I wanted to show the other alders the issues that students are facing,” Govindarajan said. “The other alders don't really know what's happening on campus because of the campus bubble.”

Historically, the city has rarely engaged with student housing issues, according to Govindarajan. 

“When I came into office, I really wanted to get more students involved in the process, which is why we had 1,700 people fill out that survey,” Govindarajan said. “Then, 300 people emailed alders over a span of three days, which is the most amount of emails we've ever gotten from the public.”

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UW-Madison was also involved in an affordability agreement with developers as a result of city efforts. 

Under the agreement, a developer provides a certain number of units at a discounted price in exchange for the city allowing them to build two additional floors, or the city can invest in the development financially, according to Govindarajan. UW-Madison will then “direct FAFSA-eligible students to those apartments,” Govindarajan said.

City officials continue to have discussions about additional ways to increase housing affordability, Govindarajan said, though nothing has been solidified yet. 

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