College students in Santa Clara camping out to secure off-campus housing

Local college and university students are not immune to the low supply of available housing.

The grind of college work for some Santa Clara University students now includes a crash course in securing housing.

“We’re trying to find a house for next year with a few girlfriends, and unfortunately this is the way you do it,” said sophomore Kelley McCarroll, who was at the end of a half-block long line outside the officers of Real Source Property Management.

Junior Jack Boselli and his friends were first in line to sign-up for 100 units of housing open for selection Oct. 1.

“It’s been really hard to find houses. To this is this is the only option we have,” he said.

Real Source owner Myron Von Raesfeld says initially the selection process was done online at midnight, but the flood of responses caused problems.

“We tried it online and at midnight our severe would crash with students all trying to get a timestamp before somebody else so that they could be first in line,” he said.

The virtual line is now a literal one, with the hardcore taking turns camping out the past four days, all to be first in line, and get the best selection.

The university has about 3,300-bed spaces for a student body of 5,300. Officials say freshman are required to live on-campus. But upperclassmen who choose to live off-campus face the housing crunch. They say there are actually vacancies if students choose to live on-campus.

“It’s not what I anticipated doing this week. But I do it for my boys because we have to organize it somehow. Because it’s not like we could do anything online, or anything like that. That would make too much sense,” said SCU junior Abel Daniel, as he sat at the front of the line with his friends.

Three former SCU students who went through that same process and thought it made no sense. So the trio started OneRent five years ago. The company started by catering to students around the Bay Area who were looking for housing. Its online process eliminates the need for sleeping outside. But they only have a handful of units near the campus.

The 100 units offered by Real Source —starting at $2,400 per room and topping out around $6,000 -- are within a couple of blocks walk of the campus and social life.

“That’s really what they’re looking for. That student quality of life that they have. And so the closer they can be to campus, the happier and more better it is for them it is to do the things they want to do,” said Von Raesfeld.

He says he may issue numbers to those already in line so that they don’t have to stay overnight, as the scramble for available housing collides with the pursuit of higher education.