MISSOULA - Missoula’s housing crisis is continuing, this time landing on the front steps of the University of Montana.
Area rents are continuing to jump and as the available housing inventory shrinks, students are struggling to find housing.
Students say they're putting pressure on UM officials to help — and part of that effort involved a Tuesday protest.
UM students could be seen camping out on the Oval under the shadow of Main Hall to protest housing insecurity.
Chants of “what do we want? Affordable housing. When do we want it? Now,” rang out from those taking part in the protest.
The calls on campus come as UM enrollment increases and residence halls are under construction.
"A lot of students are couch surfing, people are cramming into rooms, people are moving back in with their parents,” Graduate student Melissa Glueckert told MTN News.
One student detailed the impact the housing crisis has on schoolwork,” it was the hardest time of my life to be academically successful is when I was experiencing houselessness."
UM officials say that a quarter of students currently utilize university housing.
“We know that student success is tied very directly to the ability to have our basic needs met, and that includes housing,” said UM Associate Vice President of Campus Preparedness and Response Paula Short.
"They're expected to be out mid or late June, so we're just trying to make sure they have a place to be going forward,” ASUM Vice President Alex Berna said about the university-owned student housing near Fifth Street.
UM officials say they have the same goal as students — affordable housing.
"Doubles into triples where appropriate and feasible. Aber Hall is very much on our list of things that we can do to add some additional beds in the near term,” Short said.
A University of Montana spokesperson told MTN News there really is no waitlist for the residence halls, but they will continue to address the issue.
(first report: 12:34 p.m. - May 10, 2022)
Housing concerns across Montana are well known and that is also the case at the University of Montana.
Students are holding a housing protest on campus Tuesday afternoon.
Newly elected student body President Elizabeth Bowles explained students will camp out to demonstrate the severity of student homelessness.
While the protest will continue all day, the main portion is scheduled to take place from 12 p.m. until 1 p.m.
UM housing executive director Sandy Curtis recently told MTN News that both on and off-campus housing are nearly maxed out.
View additional photos from the protest here.
- Developing story. Check back for updates