Created in 2020, Affordable Rents for College Students (ARCS) is a program intended to assist college students who are struggling to get housing. While it was originally started with the aim to serve community college students, it has expanded its services over time.
In 2021, Portland State University posted an announcement saying that it had joined the program to help assist university students in their housing needs. According to PSU, “PSU’s Homelessness and Research & Action Collaborative found that 16% of PSU students had experienced homelessness in the previous 12 months.”
ARCS has served over 100 students according to Ryan Sturley, who serves as the Director for Real Estate and Development of College Housing Northwest (CHNW), which is a partner contributor to ARCS. Initially assisting five students at Portland Community College, the program expanded dramatically in the following two years. It served just under 20 students in spring 2021 and now serves 52 students, with 12 of those students attending PSU.
“We… know that many community college students we’ve assisted have gone to PSU,” Sturley said. “And we continue to assist them.”
ARCS assists students by providing a “50% rental assistance subsidy every month,” according to Sturley. “So for example, say rent is $1000 a month, our students pay $500 a month. In addition, we’re [CHNW] a nonprofit student housing organization and our houses are already below market—probably 15–20%.”
In addition to providing affordable housing, ARCS also aims to reduce the barriers that prevent students from having additional housing.
“A lot of affordable housing resources exist in the U.S., such as the Section 8 voucher,” Sturley said. “If you’re a full-time student, even if you’re experiencing homelessness or low income, in the majority of cases you are not eligible to receive affordable housing resources.”
Besides providing a rental housing subsidy, ARCS eliminates other barriers to student renters.