New database to be offered for housing search
Student Senate passed a bill Monday evening to officially replace Home Jotter, the current online system for students to use in finding off-campus housing, with a new and improved house-hunting website.
The site, called Places4Students (www.places4students.com), will serve as a database for students to search for housing off-campus, granting them specific searches based on proximity to campus, number of roommates and rules regarding pets.
The website was pitched to the senate on Monday via a 15-minute teleconference from Canada, where the company is based. After a unanimous voice vote, the bill was officially passed to adopt the site.
“We’re really excited to get this started,” said Stephanie Mabrey, Student Senate tenant affairs chairperson. “Hopefully it will be helpful to students, especially next fall when the search for houses really begins.”
The website will deal directly with landlords — who update and modify their property information online independently — and be of no cost to students, Mabrey said.
“What happens is that (Places4Students) handles the landlords for us — landlords post their information online for 28-day segments. The site posts as much information as the landlords give; a map of where the property is in relation to campus, how many (if any) pets are allowed, etc. … basically everything about the property you’d need to know,” she said.
“Then, it allows students to search specifically on those options,” she added. “For example, you could search specifically for a property that’s within a certain distance to campus, or a place with a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms — it’s really precise, and gives students a wide variety of searching opportunities.”
Chrissy Duszynski, student services director of Student Senate, said the site will also prove beneficial for finding subleasers.
“Because a large number of UW-Eau Claire students study abroad, it’s common for people to need to find subleasers for the semester they’re gone,” she said.
“What (Places 4Students) does is let you view a roommate profile; it’s sort of like a Facebook profile, with contact information and everything. Anyone interested fills it out and submits it to you, then you get to pick and choose.”
Places4Students currently serves numerous universities across the United States and Canada; more locally speaking, UW-Oshkosh and UW-River Falls use the site as their main off-campus housing database.
“We actually heard about the site through a landlord,” Mabrey said. “It was at Housing Day last year, and one of them recommended it to us. Online techniques seem to be the preference nowadays.”
After having little luck with Home Jotter, Mabrey said they were looking for new ideas; Places4Students, she said, was just the reputable site they needed.
“Home Jotter was just really outdated,” Duszynski said. “Places4Students is definitely a big improvement because it has so much more to offer; a lot of students search for houses by blindly driving around the student ghetto, but now, the whole process will be made much easier.”
Mabrey said students can expect the site to be up shortly after spring break. Until then, she said, students should keep an eye out around campus for promotions and more information.
“In general, there’s always been lots of disconnect between landlords and students,” Mabrey said. “This will hopefully bridge that gap.”