New housing complex near Broadmoor Blvd.(Michaela Helean/Observer)
Rio Rancho is struggling to keep college students in town to live and work.
Mayor Gregg Hull believes the high prices and high rent that students often face when they go to find a home is causing the problem.
“Most college students want to leave to another city or state when they finish,” Hull said.
He also said that housing is becoming less and less attainable for college students every day.
According to the New Mexico Tax and Revenue department, the average college student in New Mexico makes minimum wage of $11.50 per hour which amounts to $23,920 per year.
The average price of a house is around $300,000 in Rio Rancho.
So a student makes less than one percent of what a house costs. Also, most college students do not have an established credit score yet.
Rent is at an all time high as well. According to apartments.com, the average one bedroom apartment costs $1,026 per month which leaves the average student with around $990 to pay for utilities, car payments, insurance payments and food.
According to a 2021 Housing Insecurity Survey from UNM, 43.6% of respondents were housing insecure in the previous 12 months, which is an increase from 2020.
“…I was forced to move…. So, you know, I had to find an apartment during a housing shortage and come up with enough money to move in and come up with enough money to have everything started up. Which you know, the minimum is around 1,000 dollars. I work part-time. So, coming up with 1,000 dollars on a part-time salary at slightly higher than minimum wage is very difficult to do. Especially when you are going to school. ….Having to move, pack up, figure out how to get everything set up. I could not focus,” an student said in the survey.
The survey also showed that all students that reported housing insecurity had some difficulty keeping grades up.
Hull thinks the Habitat for Humanity project will take some of the pricing issues down for those students. The Observer wrote about the project.
Hull says this is a hard problem to solve because it is so difficult to define.
“How do we as a community make sure our kids want to and can afford to live here?” he said.