ANNUAL REPORT OF THE HOUSING POLICY COMMITTEE
1. Three matters have taken up most of the committee’s time this year, apart from a small number of personal grievances on the part of Columbia faculty and student tenants. These latter concerns were brought to the attention of William Scott, Deputy VP of Institutional Real Estate (IRE), who assiduously attended meetings of the committee.
2. The committee considered a long-standing idea, which came in the form of a proposal from the Structure and Operations Committee, to convert the Housing Policy Committee from a presidentially-appointed committee into a standing Senate committee. Our committee considered this proposal in detail, and concluded that the change would be likely to have the beneficial effects of making the committee more representative of the University community and less an instrument of the administration; it could therefore be hoped that the Senate’s various constituencies would make greater use of the committee. We voted unanimously in favour of a resolution in the sense of the one being presented to the Senate on April 25, 2003.
3. Our second main concern has been with faculty waiting lists for IRE housing. The anecdotal evidence suggested that young faculty with children have sometimes had to wait for very long periods to obtain apartments of acceptable size. Mr. Scott, noting that there is a perennial shortage of premium apartments, furnished the committee with statistics about waiting lists, which confirmed that this has indeed been a problem area. But he was also able to provide details of the forthcoming additions to the IRE housing stock, which suggest that by fall 2004 the problem will be greatly alleviated (if faculty demand for Morningside housing does not increase drastically).
4. The committee also discussed in detail with Mr. Scott the proposed rent increases for 2003. The budget is under severe pressure because of the increased cost of heating oil (it might be hoped that the bill for heating oil will decrease in 2004) and insurance. The committee was satisfied that IRE had done its best to contain costs, and recognized the necessity of the proposed 3.5% increase.
W.V. Harris, Committee Chair, April 25, 2003