The Daily Iowan reports that Housing officials at the University of Iowa are pursuing a public-private partnership (PPP) to ensure availability of graduate student housing. Over the past few years student interest in the units has lessened, then a 2008 flood damaged 76 units. Housing officials are meeting with the state's Board of Regents on April 28 in Ames where they will discuss the following options after the units are razed:
- Reduce available graduate student housing by not replacing the units.
- Replace the units by having the University construct new units.
- Replace the units by having a private company construct new units through a PPP.
Housing officials believe using a PPP is the most cost-effective option, and have support from several community leaders. Richard Vedder, the director of the Center for College Affordability, told The Daily Iowan PPPs for student housing are becoming increasingly common and add value because "Private renovations, depending on the state, may offer more freedom than a state renovation alone. Universities don't have to be so concerned with bidding, for example." Iowa State Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, supports the move as well telling The Daily Iowan, "(Her) general feeling is that schools are better at teaching and research, but they aren't so good at things in the private sector like affordable housing."
Vedder and Mascher's analyses coincide with recent research published in Reason Foundation's Annual Privatization Report 2010: State Privatization section, which found "PPPs can deliver 15-30 percent lifecycle cost savings for operations and maintenance and can be used to deliver projects significantly faster than under typical public procurement methods." Below are several high-profile student housing PPPs underway right now:
- The University of California-Davis is using a PPP to provide 343 housing units, 1980 student beds in apartment housing and 42,500 square feet of retail in a mixed-use development spanning 130-acres. They're doing so after leveraging a direct investment of $11 million into a viable $280 million project.
- Florida Atlantic University is using a PPP to construct a $123 million on-campus student housing community on its Boca Raton campus that will provide development and management of a new 1,216-bed student residential facility, with additional mixed retail and office uses.
- Meanwhile, officials at Northern Illinois University, Illinois State University, East Carolina University and elsewhere are pursuing similar PPPs.
For more information on student housing PPPs, see "Part 13: Higher Education Update" in Reason Foundation's Annual Privatization Report 2010: State Government Privatization section and Reason Foundation's 2007 study Privatizing University Housing.