Hoya House Hunters, a website that lists information on neighborhood housing rentals, launched Jan. 15 to help undergraduate students find off-campus housing.

The initiative is a joint effort between the Georgetown University Student Association and the Georgetown Student Tenant Association. It compiles information about neighborhood housing options from past tenants to help students find off-campus housing for their senior year.

The data listed on the Hoya House Hunters website includes price, occupancy, number of rooms, number of bathrooms, backyard space, parking availability and location, as well as contact information for the landlord and comments from residents. The information is offered in a spreadsheet and map format.

The website currently has 94 entries — some of which are incomplete — in the West Georgetown, Cloisters and Burleith neighborhoods. The website also acknowledges it “can’t promise” all of the information, which is sourced from past residents, is “100% accurate.”

FILE PHOTO: ALLIE FREI FOR THE HOYA
Hoya House Hunters, a website that seeks to help students find off-campus housing options, launched Jan. 15.

GUSA Historian Ari Goldstein (COL ’18) said Hoya House Hunters fills the gap for accessible information about off-campus housing options for students. The process of finding off-campus housing can be challenging for students who do not have connections with older students, according to Goldstein.

“Generally speaking, the way that people will find off-campus housing is that an older friend will sort of pass down the house to them, but what that really means is that they will give the landlord’s phone number and email to the younger friend and say, ‘Reach out to the landlord and make that connection,’” Goldstein said.

As a result, Goldstein said, houses can be “handed down” within members of a fraternity, sorority or sports team.

“It’s not a very democratic process because it means that houses are not available to anyone looking,” Goldstein said.

Mohammad Khanzada (SFS ’20), president of GSTA, said he collaborated with Goldstein to establish Hoya House Hunters. GSTA aims to be the first space for students to voice their off-campus housing concerns, Khanzada said.

“Ari really was the driving force behind this operation, and his passion is really what drew me to starting this up with him in order to better the options available to students. In the end, we want this to be students helping other students,” Khanzada wrote in an email to The Hoya.

GUSA developed Hoya House Hunters to respond to the need for information on neighborhood housing available to all students, according to GUSA President Kamar Mack (COL ’19).

Mack said the relationships GUSA shares with both GSTA and the neighborhood community have helped in the formation of the program.

“It’s difficult to have one central place to go and find off-campus housing choices,” Mack said.

In 2014, GUSA, GSTA and the Students of Georgetown, Inc., developed Roomr, a platform similar to Hoya House Hunters, where students could rate their homes and landlords. The site shut down last semester in anticipation of the launch of Hoya House Hunters.

Roomr’s purpose was to help students learn about landlords in the Georgetown neighborhood before signing leases with them, according to Goldstein.

“The idea behind Roomr was that there are a lot of awful landlords in the Georgetown neighborhood, so students would not really know what they were getting themselves into,” Goldstein said. “They would sign a lease with the landlord and then the landlord would be stealing their security deposits and refusing to fix things in the house and just causing a lot of problems. And so the goal was for students to be able to share that information with each other in advance of anyone signing leases.”

However, Roomr’s popularity declined among students over the last several years, according to Goldstein, while the issues it intended to solve persisted.

“[Roomr] sort of fell into oblivion because the generation of people who founded it and started using it graduated, and people didn’t follow in their path,” Goldstein said. “But the problem still exists: There’s a lot of landlords that are bad landlords in the neighborhood. It’s also a problem that most underclassmen students are not particularly aware of because they’re not looking for off-campus housing or aren’t in off-campus housing.”

Mack said he hopes upperclassmen will review their houses to improve the Hoya House Hunters website.

“The site can always be getting better, and we’re going to be really pushing for current seniors, or if any juniors are living off campus, it’d be awesome if we could get people to review their houses once they move out,” Mack said. “We really want to drive usage for current juniors and sophomores who want to live off campus.”

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