ASM Budget Amendment #4: Housing and Tenant support services

The motion: ‘Create a line-item for “Housing and Tenant support services’ with a recommendation for “Add to IB”‘

Nearly all UW students, if they don’t live in the dorms, rent an apartment. Outside of tuition, rent is probably the single biggest expense in a student’s life. For most undergrads, the first apartment they will ever rent will be during their years here. Stable and worry-free housing is critical to students’ academic and personal wellbeing. All of these are reasons why housing counseling and support services should exist on this campus.

ASM has had a history of funding these sorts of services, but it has been inconsistent in its approach over the past decade. This is mostly due to the SSFC changing the criteria for the GSSF, in response to external and internal pressures. We have in the past simply purchased services from a provider, funded a non-student majority group through the GSSF, and funded a student-majority group through the GSSF. It appears that in FY2011, as it stands now, the only housing support services ASM will fund is the tenant ratings website. This is a worthy service, but is not sufficient. It is time to stop hoping that a group will come forward and provide these services.  Instead, ASM should act to secure them.

I propose amending the internal budget resolution to include a line item for “Housing and Tenant Support Services”, and to start the process of issuing an RFP for contractual services as provided for under 6(a)(8) of UW System Policy F-50. The Finance Committee, with the assistance of an ad-hoc working group of council members, shall develop the requirements and estimate the expected costs. Services that we may want to acquire include:

  • UW-Madison student specific email support address, with guaranteed response times.
  • UW-Madison student specific phone hotlines, with guaranteed hours of operation
  • Landlord/Tenant mediations
  • Tenant rights education campaigns, specifically targeting UW-Madison students
  • Outreach events in the dorms in the fall semester, explaining the rental process to new students
  • Operation of the “Tenant Ratings Website”
  • On campus, in person support
  • Development of a fall “Housing Fair” in the Kohl Center
  • Training of student advocates and ombudsmen
  • Subletting agreement assistance
  • Documentation and case management of rental difficulties
  • Housing information for departmental recruiting, particularly of graduate and professional students

As part of the contract, ASM may have to provide certain things (like the email address, or the space for the on-campus in person support, or marketing support for events, etc)

At the moment, this is all pretty vague. I’m not sure of the best way to fund these services, the internal budget might be best, or else through the ancillary fund (which may require a transfer of funds).  At the moment, I just want a placeholder in the budget resolution.  I am hopeful that other council members may be interested in helping more fully develop the proposal over the next few weeks.

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