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North Eveleigh campus could mean homes for cash-strapped students

Students would have a better chance of finding an affordable home if Sydney University’s North Eveleigh campus becomes a reality reports Andrew Newman in City news of 3rd August 2008..

The university has proposed an alternative to the Redfern-Waterloo Authority plan for North Eveleigh, which involves converting some heritage buildings into high-rise towers and creating a parking lot for almost 2000 cars.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the authority’s proposal would overdevelop the site, increase traffic and fail to meet sustainability requirements.

Sydney University has proposed an open campus at North Eveleigh that could include teaching, research and sporting facilities.

Kate Laing, of the university’s student representative council, said affordable student housing should also be on the agenda.

“The university should take more responsibility when it comes to student housing,” Ms Laing said. “The rental crisis has come to such a point that students are having to pay upwards of $200 a week for awful hovels that are not fit to live in.”

Sydney Uni spokesman Andrew Potter said the university is very conscious of the need for affordable student housing and is keen to provide more accommodation if the space becomes available.

Director of the Ian Buchan Fell Housing Research Centre, Col James, is advising the university on housing solutions. He said they should consider more initiatives like the STUCCO student housing cooperative, which is owned by the university and the Department of Housing but managed by students. It offers student accommodation at $70 a week.

“You don’t need to rip students off,” Mr James said.

Situated on Wilson Street in Newtown, STUCCO is not far from the North Eveleigh site. Formerly a glass factory, STUCCO was renovated and purchased with funds supplied by the university and the Department of Housing.

Rosita Holmes is a visual arts student and resident of STUCCO. She said STUCCO provides a supportive community that gives students the financial freedom to focus on their studies.

“If something goes wrong we can’t just ring our landlord, we have to learn to deal with it ourselves,” Ms Holmes said.

“A lot of people see [STUCCO] as a party place, but during semester it is a very wholesome place, with lots of cups of tea and lots of study sessions.”

Ms Holmes said STUCCO also provides short-term emergency accommodation for students who find themselves evicted or in other difficult situations.

“No one ever goes hungry because someone’s always happy to cook for you,” she said.

Col James said any housing initiatives should also be environmentally sustainable and claimed the university is considering plans to generate its own power.

“It is a good opportunity for the university to do something progressive and innovative,” he said, “and there are a lot of boffins around here that know how to do it.”

Mr James said the university has a responsibility to integrate with local communities and to provide services and access. He said the university should continue to engage with the local indigenous community and also consider creating a housing cooperative for Aboriginal students.

“Currently there's not enough to attract them to Sydney Uni,” he said.

City News Source: North Eveleigh campus could mean homes for cash-strapped students