Brigham Young University students want a say in the countywide shortage of student housing.
So BYU's Student Service Association has organized a housing committee to assure that BYU students have a say in housing decisions in Utah County.And the committee came along just in time.
Committee chairwoman Maurine Josephs said BYU provides only 16 percent of married-student housing and 27 percent of singles housing in the Utah County area.
"We are particularly concerned that BYU gets a permit to build its proposed married-student housing complex," she said.
Just as the committee was being organized, Provo City and BYU had "discussions" about a 134-unit proposal for married housing on BYU campus. The City Council wanted to reduce the size, and BYU has agreed to limit the complex to 80 units.
"The City Council has been negative, and they are concerned with the economics of the issue," Josephs said. The council is afraid that university-sponsored housing will discourage private developers from coming into the valley.
The committee wants to work with the city, she said. But a recent housing study showed that building even 200 units a year for the next few years would not alleviate the housing shortage.
Tony Yapias, executive director of BYU's Student Advisory Council, said the BYU project will hardly alleviate the problem.
But he emphasized that BYU's committee wants to work and cooperate with the city.
"BYU students are very affected by this whole issue," Yapias said. "We don't want to attack them (city officials), just help them understand our point of view."
Josephs said, "We simply want to voice our feelings. We know that the city is trying to do its best for the community, but we are part of the community and we want the best for us, too."
In the future, the committee wants to address other issues, too.
"We want to encourage the private sector to build in Utah Valley," Yapias said. Developers shouldn't build only condominiums, but also lower-priced housing that students can afford.
Yapias said the committee also wants to look into Utah laws on landlord-tenant relations.