CORRECTION: This article has been updated to specify that IU students are included in the Bloomington census.
For a few years now, Bloomington has been dealing with a huge issue, and that’s the apartment and up-zoning situation.
The city claims that their method of solving this problem is to up-zone, which means they are changing the residential zoning by increasing its density. This allows for the construction of larger apartment complexes.
In theory, this will allow for more housing availability for more Bloomington residents.
The number of Bloomington residents has declined rather than increased. The 2010 Bloomington census listed 80,405 residents. The 2020 Bloomington census listed 79,968.
So, if the number of actual residents in Bloomington isn’t increasing, the increased need for housing is coming from IU students. Between the years 2018 and 2023, the number of students has been increasing substantially. More and more new students are accepted each year.
[Related: As new apartments are being built there is construction near Memorial Stadium]
During the 2018-2019 school year, there were 43,503 students enrolled at IU. For the 2022-2023 school year, a record 47,005 students are enrolled at the school.
This is why they are building these large apartment complexes at such a fast pace. But it’s not like companies are building middle-class apartment complexes. Instead, they are building luxury apartments. Evolve was one of the first to be built in 2018. The Verve was just finished last summer, and right now, Varsity Properties is building a new complex, Crimson Corner, right next to the stadium.
In reality, Bloomington’s plan isn’t to genuinely make housing affordable. Bloomington is allowing real estate agencies and investors to build these new luxury apartments to take advantage of the increasing number of students. It’s a giant cash grab.
Look at the price of rent. The city’s argument is that these new complexes will allow for availability to open up in other places, but in reality, the price of rent is only going up.
I visited three rent websites and viewed the average price of rent in Bloomington. These websites analyze the price of rent provided by varying real estate apps like Zillow and they compare it to previous years and to other cities. They show the pricing for different floorplans like studios, two-bedroom apartments and more.
[Related: Bloomington to receive $1.9 million in grant funding]
Rent.com listed the average one-bedroom apartment at $1,029 a month at a 12% increase from last year. They also list the average two-bedroom apartment at $1,246 and at a 7% increase.
Point2homes.com takes the average rent from the various types of apartments, listing the average at $1,337 a month.
Zumper.com lists the average one-bedroom apartment at $995 a month, at a 16% increase. The average price of two-bedroom apartments are listed at $1,500 a month at a 25% increase.
While they have differing estimates on the average price, they all point to an increase in rent.
Bloomington builds luxury apartments, they charge a higher rent, and the land value goes up. This high land value then results in a rise in assessed value. A rise in assessed value means a rise in property tax rates.
Competing real estate agencies that would normally charge a lower rent now need to increase their rent in order to keep up with these new complexes. Instead of solving the issue, Bloomington is only making it worse. They aren’t helping the students find more housing or apartment options. They are taking advantage of IU students and allowing for real estate agencies to charge more and raise the land value.
Bloomington is not helping IU students. They are using us as a tool to get wealthier.
Nick Moser (he/him) is a senior majoring in English and minoring in political science and film production.