Lehigh University Students Scramble to Find Housing After School Announces Plan to Tear Down Residence Hall

The demolition of an on-campus apartment complex is wreaking havoc on multiple students' future plans.

What to Know

  • Lehigh University is tearing down one of its old residence buildings to build a new one.
  • In the process, it’s left nearly a thousand juniors and seniors without affordable housing options.
  • The school says they will send a message with "more complete information on residential options" to students by the end of the week.

At Lehigh University this week, some students are preparing for Halloween. Some are studying for upcoming exams. And some are searching desperately for affordable housing, shocked by a recent announcement and terrified that they’ll be left high and dry this next academic year.

On Monday, Lehigh’s housing and services department sent out a campus-wide message informing students of its plan to tear down the Trembley Park apartment complex and build a new residence hall in its place.

The time between Trembley’s demolition and the completion of the new building, the university newspaper reported, means that juniors and seniors will be ousted from the apartments and won’t have any on-campus living options next fall.

The university presented SouthSide Commons, a nearby complex of privately-owned apartments that’s currently under construction, as a viable alternative. But there, the lowest-price lease available is more than $1,000 a month.

Lehigh student Rebekah Nicholas said she was up until 2 a.m. trying to find housing. But even the cheapest rent could cost her in the future.

“Worst case scenario, I drop out, I transfer or I take a year off until I can find some place that I can be," she said.

Other students, many of them low income or out-of-state, say their financial situation leaves them with limited options. Like Nicholas, they may be forced to take time off, transfer schools or simply drop out.

Savanna James, another Lehigh student, wants the school to rescind its decision. It’s almost November, and she has nowhere to live next year, she said.

Nearly a thousand students are affected by this announcement, James added.

“It’s displacing two entire class populations,” she said.

A spokesperson for Lehigh University told NBC10 they sent an email to rising juniors and seniors Monday.

"Unfortunately, the email communication was incomplete and caused some confusion among students," the spokesperson wrote. "We are aware of the students' concerns and acknowledge the need to provide further information about the housing options available to them, including at SouthSide Commons, which is a Lehigh University housing facility."

The spokesperson also said they would send a message with "more complete information on residential options" to students by the end of the week.

"This exciting and historic period of expansion and evolution is designed to move the university forward, building the institution’s strengths to propel Lehigh into an even brighter future," the spokesperson wrote. "Lehigh acknowledges that these efforts can present challenges to the campus community, which we have been actively seeking to minimize."

Lehigh University students are holding meetings Tuesday night and also planning a protest for Friday.

Contact Us