Matt Schwartz 

Equinox Staff 


Many Keene residents pay more than 30 percent of their income a month on housing, and Keene State College geography students say that the college has a big impact on the Keene housing market.

Geography students Amelia Armstrong, Kelley Levine and Samuel Rand presented their findings on a study of the Keene housing market Friday, March 22, in the Alumni Center. Flip This House: From Student Housing to Workforce Housing is an analysis of the student effects on housing in Keene. The geography students presented their study to a room filled with local realtors, landlords and town officials.

Armstrong, Levine and Rand argued that the single-family housing market is influencing student rental properties and that it is difficult selling to families in certain areas of Keene. They said that competition for student rentals drives up housing costs.

emily fedorko/ photo editor Vice President for Finance and Planning Karen House (left) and senior Samuel Rand (right) after the presentation of the study “Flip This House: From Student Housing to Workforce Housing” in the Alumni Center.

emily fedorko/ photo editor
Vice President for Finance and Planning Karen House (left) and senior Samuel Rand (right) after the presentation of the study “Flip This House: From Student Housing to Workforce Housing” in the Alumni Center.

Rand expressed that if a student is living off campus, he is  paying more than he should. “A student living off campus is paying more than someone with a fulltime job,” Rand said.

According to the study, 70 percent of students are paying between $500 and $700 a month in rent to live off campus.

When one adds three other roommates, there is a combined rent price of approximately $2,800 per month when the average rent in Keene is $919 per month.

Rand said that a college student is overpaying almost $2,000 what a family in Keene would pay for a house.

Rand explained that the reason why there is a lack in workforce housing for Keene residents is that landlords can charge more to students.

“There is no incentive to rent your house to someone like a firefighter, a teacher or a family because the landlord can only make around $900 off of them as opposed to around $2,800 for students. Students will live in almost any condition so the landlord can put little to no money back into the house they bought. These landlords can let the conditions get worse and worse each year and still make a lot of money off of the property,” Rand added.

City Council member and landlord Mitchell Greenwald said that the question of the impact of the larger off-campus student population has yet to be determined. “One of the concepts that this study ignores is the overall economy. We are currently in an economic squeeze, which is leading to overcrowding in off-campus housing. A lot of people are doubling up because they are struggling to pay rent.” Greenwald also explained that the newer units created for students are not getting filled. This, he said, is not helping alleviate the pressure of increased prices and overcrowding. The study also focuses on two new off-campus housing units that were recently built within the last few years: Arcadia Apartments and Davis Street Apartments.

Levine said that people are hesitant to move into the newer building to avoid damage charges that may occur over the school year. “Students are more willing to put their money toward older properties. I thought that the new modern styles and the new appliances would be attractive to students but it is actually a deterrent,” Levine stated. She added that students want a more off-campus feel such as a porch and a backyard as opposed to the standard residence hall set up.

Armstrong stated that when she asked students what the most important factor is when choosing an off-campus property, they answered location.

“It’s surprising because Arcadia Apartments are one of the closest off-campus properties around and students are still not filling it,” Armstrong commented.

Armstrong, Levine and Rand also surveyed KSC faculty about Arcadia Apartments and Davis Street Apartments. The study indicated that all faculty living within a one-mile radius of the campus support students living in the newer properties on and near Davis Street as opposed to elsewhere in the City of Keene. The study also indicated that a majority of KSC faculty members live outside Keene and commute to campus.

Heading for Home, a non-profit organization, asked the geography students to conduct the study. According to its website, The Heading for Home Coalition consists of a Board of Directors representing Monadnock Region businesses and individuals who believe that there needs to be a concerted effort in addressing affordable workforce housing issues in the Monadnock region.

Program Director Susy Thielen said that the college and the Keene community see this study as a good baseline for the future. “We are on the cusp of a major change [regarding the housing market] and we don’t know yet what it is. This study will be a good tool to look back on in trying to get more workforce housing in the region,” Thielen stated.

Armstrong, Levine and Rand said that future studies will be very useful in determining trends of off-campus student housing.


Matt Schwartz can be contacted at


To read more about the housing market in Keene see the Equinox’s editorial in page A4. 

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