‘Homeless Week’ lengthens for UW-Eau Claire students amid pandemic

Local News

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – At the end of each academic year, some university students find themselves with a lapse in housing as they move from one rental lease to the next.

First News at Nine’s Phoebe Murray spoke with several UW-Eau Claire students and an area rental company on how the pandemic is playing a role in the annual issue.

Each spring college students experience what’s become known as ‘homeless week,’ in Eau Claire.

“The name itself should just be a sign, like this is not good,” exclaims sophomore Chandlor Volden.

A time where students living in university housing scramble to find a place to stay before their next move-in date.

This year spring break was cancelled due to the pandemic and classes ended a week earlier, extending the lapse in housing for two to even three weeks.

“My original plan was to go home and live at home for 3 weeks because I didn’t have anywhere to stay here…” starts freshman Blugold Kamryn Ahlstrom.

Ahlstrom lives two hours west of the Twin Cities with a lease that begins June 6and a part-time restaurant job.

“So instead my manager booked me a hotel, so now I’m staying here for 3 weeks so I can stay and work,” says a grateful Ahlstrom.

“Milwaukee Burger has hotels for us and I also have really awesome coworkers so I’m just going to be couch-hopping basically,” Volden says.

Accommodations extended to several Milwaukee Burger employees, including sophomore Volden, where commuting to work isn’t an option.

“Granted my earliest shift would be 10:45 but I’d have to leave my house at 8a.m. and obviously it’s a job you have to look presentable so I’d have to wake up early enough –I’m not going to drive 2 hours home and then do it all again the next day,” explains Volden.

“In a typical year my student leases run from June 1 to May 23,” explains Pamela Lovelien, owner and landlord of Eau Claire Student Rentals.

Lovelien says when renting to college students, time for cleaning and repairs can be necessary.

“Sometimes our units are not left in the best condition and it requires a significant amount of work,” she says.

As a smaller landlord in town with just over 60 students and 20 units, 90% of tenants are able to move in early, free of charge.

“As long as the property is not damaged and I don’t have a lot of repairs to do it works out great.”

She implores freshman to choose their landlords wisely because it can make a difference when situations like this arise; whether or not they may be accomodating or not.

An end of the year frustration, heightened by the pandemic this time around.

“I have to move out of the dorms back to home, and then into the hotel, go back home, buy all my stuff for my house and then move into a house,” says a frustrated Ahlstrom.

In Eau Claire Phoebe Murray First News at Nine.

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