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Students search for alternative 2
2016년 09월 12일 (월) 10:37:15 Ewha Voice evoice@ewha.ac.kr
   
The government is building affordable public rental houses named "Happy House" to alleviate university students' housing problems. Photo by Kim Kyung-min.

Government strives to alleviate students housing burden
To fit the needs of university students who are left with no choice but to find private accommodation, the government has launched several housing programs. One of them is “Happy House,” which is an affordable public rental housing. An unmarried university student that goes to the nearby university without any other personal housing is eligible to apply. The rent varies according to each tenant’s financial situation. Overall, it is estimated that each student pays only 68 percent of the current market price for the monthly rent.
“It is even possible for students to apply for a low interest loan from Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport up to 70 percent of the rental fee,” said the official in charge of the Happy House. “The interest rate is lower than what an average bank would charge the students.”
As of this year, a total of 10,812 rooms have been rented out. The competition rate to get into Happy House within Seoul is higher than that of any other cities.
“We are having difficulties building more housing as the residents nearby have a prejudice against public rental housing, that it will attract low income families to the neighborhood,” the faculty explained. “However, that’s only in the case of long-term public rental housing. Tenants of Happy House on the other hand, are mostly young people of the average age of 28, with reasonable income, who will vitalize the local businesses. Therefore, the satisfaction enjoyed by the nearby residents are higher than originally expected, and we are continuously trying to persuade other citizens to build more Happy Houses.”
Another unique form of housing provided by the government is “Room Sharing.” Started in 2013, this project aimed to pair the elderly living alone with university students in need of houses. It aimed to catch two birds with one stone, providing a talkative family figure to the lonely elderly as well as providing a house for the university student in need of affordable housing. The student pays around 200,000 won per month, and takes up house chores such as grocery shopping, which are discussed and divided prior to moving in.
“At first, the elderly worried that students will increase water and electricity bills, but they are now more surprised by the messiness of students’ rooms,” mentioned Choi Yeong-yong, Welfare and Housing Manager. “Nevertheless, the elderly enjoys living with the students as they bring young energy to the household.”
Various districts, including Seoudamun-gu, take part in this project and monitors the room sharing within their area. The officials put up posters in various apartments to get elderly volunteers, and ask different universities to publicize the project to get student volunteers. As a result, the project is on-going strong with 12 student participants this year in Seodaemun-gu. 

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