Neville Pinto

University of Cincinnati President Neville Pinto.

At this point, another housing crisis at the University of Cincinnati (UC) seems inevitable. The impacts will be bad, people will be unhoused, rents will go up, community spaces will be even more crowded – and those are just some entries on the innumerable list of problems that UC is causing through unnecessary expansion. 

UC doesn’t plan on stopping there, though – it still has plenty of room to devastate the local community while it continues to work on harming its student population. There are plenty of ways to do that, but one of the administration’s favorites is also their latest solution to the housing crisis: block leasing.

Block leasing is the concept of leasing multiple units of a property – in this case, more than one apartment – in one lease rather than forming many separate leases. For UC, this manifests mainly in their off-campus apartment-style offerings like University Edge or CP Cincy, where they’ve historically blocked leased hundreds of beds each year. Next fall is no different: UC’s Board of Trustees approved five block leases at their meeting Tuesday, totaling 990 off-campus beds. These are all privately owned and cost UC a grand total of $36.3 million dollars over their duration. 

In a way, this is a sensible move. Construction can’t happen immediately – especially when UC seems dedicated to constantly renovating something – and UC needs these beds now, especially if President Pinto wants to keep his guarantee that all incoming students will have a place to live throughout the university. The thing is, block leasing doesn’t come without its own array of issues – especially for the surrounding community.

When thinking about the 990 beds that UC has just agreed to lease – and the similar number leased in years past – we must consider that those are housing locations being taken out of the hands of the long-term community around UC. As a college student interacting with most other college students or faculty members, it can be easy to disregard the entire community around you – but that community doesn’t cease to exist. And, while those beds do represent more opportunities for both UC applicants and current UC students, they also exacerbate the ongoing rent and housing crisis in the broader city. 

Of course, harming the broader city has never been a stopping point for UC. Whatever you want to call it, UC has been participating in expansionism and gentrification in Cincinnati for years – harm that is impossible to go back on at this point. It would be unrealistic to hope that these attitudes will change, either. The profit motive is too strong, and people like President Pinto and the broader upper-level UC administration don’t have much to lose in forgoing the community. 

In a similar vein, the profit motive will likely prevent that same administration from engaging with the only real solution to the housing crisis – admitting fewer students – for the foreseeable future. Until the time comes when UC can’t find students to admit, the city can no longer handle a single additional student, or acts of dissent become too unbearable to continue, our administration will keep doing untold damage to Cincinnati’s students and long-term communities. It’s time to stop pretending that these decisions are made for the good of anything or anyone but UC’s profit.

Opinion Editor

Ian Siegert has been with The News Record since 2022 as an opinion contributor and now opinion editor. He is a junior majoring in statistics and political science.